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    Real Strategy Requires Cunning

RhaegarTelcontarTargaryen

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Thank you everyone, both for following and for comments. I am working on the next update, however it might take a bit longer, since I have job and other real life responsibilities, as well as social life. Also I will be travelling to Stockholm in the first week of July, so I hope to get an update before I leave, but you never know... so I apologize if I make you wait a bit longer, but just wanted to make sure that even if takes a bit longer for the next update, this AAR is not dead... yet?

In the meantime, here is a little 'teaser' ...


Is a lowborn Christian woman fit to be a wife of a Jarl and a true Viking?
 

GoldenShotgun

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Depends on her cooking.
(That's my sexist joke for the day; gonna go stand in the corner....)
I might have to shoot you with a golden shotgun. (That's my bad pun for the day.)
 

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Chapter VI: The Crownless Again Shall Be King

Once a mighty king ruled in a northern land,
his enemies he fought with steel and iron hand.
So many tales were told, his name a glorious sound,
"god-like he is" they said, and by no Christian laws was bound.
Long ago in a northern land...*


They say it is easier to conquer the kingdom, than to rule it. When it comes to King, or Jarl how he prefered to style himself even after the crowning*, Erik the Heathen of Sweden, that is certainly true. He has slain three out of the four sons of King Stenkil, as well as his half-sister and King Stenkil's wife,** but that only angered the Christians more. Halsten Stenkilsson was for sure not willing to forget that he once wore the crown, nor that his three brothers, and his mother were killed by the hand of Jarl Erik. Although other Christian lords of the Gautariki did not have personal grudges against Jarl Erik, aside from the fact that almost all of their lands were plundered and raided during the war, they did not take kindly to having to bow down to the Pagan king. As it often goes, recent converts or the ones coming from the Pagan ancestors, tend to be zealots in their desire to prove their faith, and most of the Christian in Scandinavia were new converts, or only a second or third generation of Christians. There were of course, those that worshipped both the old and the new gods, or were not feeling very devout, and adopted Christianity for practical reasons. That however did little to ease the tensions between the old faith and the new one.


Although he was a Norseman to the core, Jarl Erik was not a zealot on a crusade against all other faiths, especially not after he took back the crown of his ancestors, that he perceived was his by right of both birth and conquest. He had a certain suspicion and innate distrust towards Christians, but he was willing to accept their existence in his lands, and allow them freedom of worship, as long as they did not force their religion on Pagans (which Christians were very rarely able and willing to do) and remained loyal subjects. When the war erupted between two Erik af Munsö and Erik af Stenkil, Jarl Erik the Heathen tried to put aside his Christian wife, Sigrid. However, she asked for support for those Christians that remained in Uppland, and even though there was little love between them, tried to use her influence to force Erik to accept her as his wife. Given that Erik's enemies were mostly Christians, other pagans did not take kindly to Jarl having a Christian wife. In the end, Jarl Erik denounced his Christian wife, and had her executed as his personal sacrifice to Thor and Odin, somewhere at the beginning of the war in 1067.***




To think of Jarl Erik as a zealot would certainly be wrong, and he might have satisfy himself with a mere annulment of marriage, if it wasn't for the scheming of his wife Sigrid, and support Bishop Sigtryg had given to her cause. Their marriage was one of convenience, Jarl's effort to win support of Christians by marrying a Christian woman. When the war broke, that proved futile, and her being of lowborn birth did not helped either. That however can not be said of Jarl's second wife. Sometime during late 1068 or early 1069, after the Battle of Köpinghus in which Erik af Stenkil was slain, pagan forces plundered and raided Gripsholm and Nyköping. While the raiding was something that happened all across Southern Sweden for the next decade, this one proved important because of the prisoners that were taken. Two princesses from Denmark, both daughters of King Svend II of Denmark, from the House of Estrid were captured. The first one was Gunhild, widow of King Erik af Stenkil, and the second one was Ingrid, wife of late King Erik's brother, the uncrowned King Halsten af Stenkil of Sweden.


At first they were as held hostages, with a hope for ransom, or as a means to keep Svend of Denmark out of the war, in case he decided to intervene and join Stenkil in his war against pagans. But Svend held little interest for the war in Sweden, probably because he had aspirations of conquest in the south, the lands held by the sons of Stenkil, and because as long as Sweden was divided and embroiled in a civil war, it would pose no threat to Denmark. There were also rumours that King Svend was reluctant to wage war against his kinsman, never minding the fact that they were only distant cousins, and of different religion. House Estrid traced it's origins both through both male and female line to Ragnarr Loðbrók and Björn Ironside. In the end, reasons may be this or that, but what is important is the fact that Svend II Estrid remained neutral during the civil war in Sweden. However, what came next was an interesting turn of events in the War of the Two Eriks period (historians call it like that, even after only one Erik remained actually alive, and consider that war lasted from 1066 to 1077 ). After spending several months as prisoners of Jarl Erik, it was announced that the Jarl will marry Princess Gunhild of Denmark, widow of Erik Stenkilsson, and daughter of King Svend II Estrid of Denmark. The reasons behind the decision are a matter of debate among scholars, and even Chronicler Athelstan can not give a definite answer, because King or Jarl may speak to, or allow his Chronicler to observe events, but rarely he will seek counsel or talk of matters of his heart. Some believe that Jarl fell in love with a young and beautiful Princess. Others view it as more polite way of saying that Svend needs to stay out of the war, and out of Sweden, if he wants his daughters to live. Most view it as a means to further legitimize his claim to the throne, by marrying a widow of a King he himself had slain, and to show Christians that he can be tolerant and willing to treat them as equals. Whatever the reasons may be, Svend of Denmark gave an approval of the marriage, and although he refused an alliance with the pagan Jarl, gave his consent for the marriage, as long as his daughter was treated with highest dignities that befit a queen.
The wedding ceremony was a very specific one, and although many Christians, including the Pope did not recognize the marriage, because Erik was not baptised, the wedding was actually two weddings, one by Christian rites, done by a priest, and the other, more fitting the old pagan ways. Chronicle Athelstan views it as a gesture of good will towards both Gunhild, her father and remaining Christians that lived in the lands under Jarl Erik. In the meantime, Ingrid, wife of Halsten Stenkil was kept as a prisoner, but in a quite comfortable house, and was allowed to walk around the castle, spend time with her sister, and even ride and visit marketplace, for as long as she remained in Håtuna and had her personal bodyguards with her at all times.


Princess Gunhild remained a devout Christian, even after marrying a pagan Jarl, something Jarl Erik was willing to overlook, but being younger and growing up in the Uppsala region, Ingrid developed a strong sympathy towards the pagans, and it is said often spent time with Chronicler Athelstan, talking about both the heathen and Christian ways. Athelstan writes that her influence was great, when Jarl won the war and allowed Halsten af Stenkil to remain Jarl of Västergötland and keep the lands he ruled. Indeed, both princesses suffered the similar fate, in that that their marriages were made for political convenience, not to mention that Gunhild was in a way forced to marry a pagan Jarl, so their marriages were not happy ones, or at least not marriages full of love. One must however say, that Jarl Erik always treated Gunhild like it befits a King to treat a princess and a queen, and tired to make her life easier, allowing her to remain Christian, showing her affection, and indeed, not taking any lovers... That is, unless you believe few specific wild tales, mostly sung by skalds and bards, that Jarl Erik actually had a lover, Gunhild's own sister and Halsten's wife Ingrid. That would explain unusually gentle treatment of both Gunhild and Ingrid while prisoners of Jarl Erik, as well as Ingrid's sympathy for pagans, and Jarl's generous treatment of her husband upon his coronation and the agreement of peace. However, such fanciful stories should be taken with reserve, because all the evidence are circumstantial, and it would make sense for skalds, especially those pagan, to make Jarl both a great conqueror and a great lover. And we all know that commons and bards like such stories of love and adultery, especially among nobles and rulers. It as much as likely that it was just a part of political play of power, in an attempt to solidify his grip on the Kingdom of Sweden, and appease his father-in-law.


What can be said with certainty is that Jarl Erik's skill and reputation grew formidably during the decade of war. However, that doesn't mean that he was looked more favourably in the Christian world. Actually, all the raiding maid him famous, and songs were sung about his deeds on the field of battle, but also he was perceived as a much greater threat to the Christians now, than he was before. Even after the peace was made, and Erik crowned as King Erik af Munsö, the King of Sweden, there were tensions both within the realm, and on the outside, especially both Denmark and Norway were ruled by Christian kings.


The marriage of Jarl Erik and Gunhild of Denmark took place in the middle stages of the War of the Two Eriks. Although the sources sometimes contradict each other, we can assume that it was made mostly out of political convenience, and it is said it was not a happy marriage, or a marriage of love. Over time, however, there was a certain sense of respect between the two, developed probably because on the one hand Jarl Erik proved capable commander and warrior, and on the other because even though it started with Gunhild being a prisoner, Jarl showed considerable tolerance and sometimes even affection for his Christian queen. The most important event of their marriage happened in the early days of 1072, during Winter. It was the birth of their first child, a son, who was named Ragnar, a name even Gunhild found appropriate and approved of, as Ragnarr Loðbrók was an ancestor of both Erik and Gunhild. Some seven years later, they also had a daughter, named Aslaug.



While Gunhild did fear that it may eventually come to war between her pagan husband, and her father, an unexpected turn of events happened in Denmark, while the war in Sweden still lasted. A certain forms of heresy, differing from the official church doctrine of the Pope in Rome, and possibly influenced by the presence of Anti-Pope in Capetian France, as well as the recent schism between the eastern and western Christianity, begun to appear in the Christian regions, from Hungary to areas around Baltic Sea. Both King Svend II, and his heir Harald Estrid, Jarl of Slesvig, became followers of the new, heretic beliefs, along with some other nobles, most notably in the Öland and Syaland regions. This created both a fracture between Svend of Denmark, and Halsten af Stenkil, as well as creating tension between Denmark and her other Christian neighbours. Several years later, these tensions led to the war, in which Svend II Estrid tried to conquer and subjugate the Slavic city of Lübeck. Although the local population was mostly still pagan, the Nakonid dynasty which ruled Lübeck was catholic. This fact led to a formation of catholic alliance against heretic King of Denmark. While the Danish could easily overcome resistance, had they fought only against Lübeck, the alliance proved to be decisive in the outcome of the war. Danish army was defeated and annihilated in 1077. Having lost his army, and being denounced by the pope as heretic, his advancing years taking his toll, Svend in the end lost his crown, and the Danish throne passed to Svend Thrugot, Jarl of Juteland.





The war took it's tall both mentally and physically on the ageing king, and in the summer of 1078 he died, a broken man, his crown lost and his armies defeated.**** At the same time, a new war broke out between King Magnus of Norway, son of Hardrada, and Domnall of Skottland, who inherited the throne of his brother Malcolm or Máel Coluim the Third of Alba (Skottland). This left his many surviving sons and daughters, with a desire to claim their father's throne for himself. Among them was also Gunhild, and it is said that Jarl Erik, now a crowned King of Sweden, promised to his Christian wife, that if she swears an oath not to persecute nor punish heathens, he will help her conquer her father's throne for her.***** Of course, once she was on the throne of Denmark, her heir would be her, and Jarl Erik's son Ragnar, so while it is probable that Jarl Erik wanted to gain further loyalty and trust from her Christian wife, he would be also fighting for his own son.

So, by the year 1080, as the Christians count it, all three kingdoms of Scandinavia were in a somewhat perilous position. Sweden was slowly recovering from the civil war, and although a couple of years passed in peace, and Jarl Erik slowly build his army, Christians were still numerous in the south, and some of them were burning for revenge and eager to fight the pagans once more. Denmark, on the outside looked stable, but King Svend III Thrugot did not held much land, compared to Jarls of Skåne and Slesvig. Also numerous members of Estrid family wanted to take the crown back, and Jarl Erik waited for the opportunity to crown his wife as Queen of Denmark. Norway was on the brink of the second lost war against Skottland in a decade, and with it, the manpower was depleted, leaving it vulnerable to neighbouring pagans. And in the east, influenced by Varangians, Finnish pagans sometimes raided even in Sweden and Denmark, and Jarl Erik considered the idea to conquer the Finnish coastal regions, and put an end to it. So it was not really the question will the new war soon erupt, it was just the question where will it happen first, because one war could have a domino effect on the neighbouring Kingdoms of the North.





*Not only it sounds more true to the pagan Norse Vikings, but it also helps distinguish two Eriks, even though one of them is deceased.
**Another one was captured, Inge, and executed in the later staged of the war. I considered to ransom him, but he was worth mere 10 gold, so I ended his pathetic life with a strike of an axe. He went mad in the oubliette, where he spent a couple of years before I executed him.
***I actually wanted to divorce her, but divorce costs like 10.. or 40 gold, an execution is free.
****I was busy fighting my own war, so I have not paid detailed attention to Denmark. I saw in 10974 that my father-in-law turned heretic, and I started planing invasion, so I can use the fact that he is heretic, and unlikely to get any help from the Holy Roman Empire. However, the said war and the loss of title ruined my plans for easy conquest of Denmark. I tried to form alliance with him, on several occasions but of course, he refused since I am infidel.
*****The problem is, she has a weak claim on England and Denmark, which can not be inherited, but can be pressed only under certain circumstances, which means at the moment I am unable to press her claims. I am not sure I will be able to do it at all. Also Denmark is elective, so it might not be 100% that Ragnar would be the heir, but I would risk it, if given the chance to push for the claim.

As some may notice, I mixed up the names in the previous chapters, for some reason, I wrote as if Inge became king after Erik af Stenkil died, but it was Halsten, and Inge was later captured and executed by me. I assume I got it confused because I made a few reloads / roll-backs to previous saves. I have changed name in previous chapter accordingly.

Also, I wasn't paying attention, it seems that somehow Jarl Toke declared independence from Halsten, while I was fighting him, because Denmark, Jarl of Skåne to be more precise, conquered two provinces in the Swedish south. I assume he gained independence before he died and the lands were then taken by Denmark.

I am now left with a tough decision, it is January 1st 1080, and I must decide should I call for the prepared invasion of Denmark or Norway. I would like to give Denmark to my wife, but I plan to have the Duchies of Uppland and Syeland as my two crown duchies, when one day hopefully I create the Kalmar Union / Empire of Scandinavia.. but I am thinking much too far ahead, I am not even safe, since my control of Sweden is very, very fragile.

P.S. Sorry for the delay, I know it has been more than two weeks, but I feel it's better to have fewer quality updates, than put them on often.

I know this chapter doesn't show a lot, at least in terms of events and battles, but I felt it was important to show current situation in Scandinavia, because the current situation is important for the further events in the next few chapters.

In other news, I spent six days in Stockholm, and I am in love with the city, and I want to move there. It was my first time to visit Sweden, and it was great.

Also I visited the Ancient Temple and the Holy Shrine of Paradox. I thought about entering the building and crying until they hire me, but I kinda felt it would not be good to get myself deported or locked in an mental asylum. P.S. Paradox, can I has workings, plox.


Yours truly, on a pilgrimage.​
 
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RhaegarTelcontarTargaryen

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Chapter VII: An Ancient Sign Of Coming Storm

Blood red bows plough the waves, Dragon heads grin.
Twenty ships with Norsemen braves, Riding the northern wind.
They left their shores at early dawn, As a red sun was rising in the east.
An ancient sign of coming storm, Thunder of sword and shield.
Here it comes the mighty storm, Every man attacks.
Now is when heroes are born, There is no turning back.*

The two of them stood on the hill. It wasn't a very tall hill, the land was mostly flat, but it was the highest point for quite a few leagues around. They gazed down from the hill, at the sea. On the shore several drakkars were unloading men, all armed and armoured, pikemen, bowmen, spearmen as well as the core of the fighting force, warriors armed with swords or axes and shields. His face was frowned, eyes lit with fire, but face full of worry and concern. She took his arm, and held it in hers. He was surprised, he was not used to her being affectionate and gentle. Their marriage was not one made for love, it was a political affair, like most marriages made by the rulers. Over time there was a growing respect between them, even some confidence and trust, especially in the affairs of state, and mutual love for their son and their daughter, but not much love.

"You are not angry, knowing most of them are pagans, and that they will conquer, and pillage and raid across the lands of your homeland, Christian lands?"
"I would like if this could be avoided, I don't want my homelands burned. I don't want to see my fellow Christians die, I don't want to see my people die. But I don't want to see my son die either. He is a song of a King, and II want him to become King. I want the throne of my father back. It belongs to me, or to my son at least. I could be content if one of my brothers was crowned King, like our father was. But I will never accept that usurper dog being named the King of Denmark."
"Speaking of our son, do you think he is safe? I mean truly safe, I know King William promised, but.."
"He is, as much as he can be. Trust me. You may still cling to your heathen ways, but I am a Christian, a daughter of a King, and a wife to one, even if he is pagan. William has trouble enough keeping his kingdom together, he will not risk the reputation. Remember, even Pope in Rome agreed to this. They all hope our son will adopt Christianity, so when he takes the throne they don't have to deal with another Viking. And our squabbles in the north, are keeping us from attacking and raiding across Europe, like our ancestors of old did, God forgive them."
"And you? Do you hope that he will take to the ways of his mother, rather than the faith of his father?"
She looked at him, in silence for a few moments. She wasn't afraid, she knew he accepted her Christian beliefs long time ago.. but.. would he accept that his heir becomes Christian, turn his back on his gods, gods of their ancestors?
"I... I... I am.. Christian, for better or for worse, I was raised like that, and took it to my heart. I will be happy if he found in his heart a path to Christ. But.. Ragnar is my son. I may have come unwilling to our marriage, but you.. you never took me without my will, never forced yourself on me. We, we come from two worlds, two worlds in the same land, locked in a battle. But I love my son, and my daughter, above everything else. I love them more than you love your gods, more than I love my own god. I even named them, our children, and gladly, by our famed ancestors, and founders of our lines. I will love Ragnar, and Aslaug too, whatever gods they chose."
She stood next to him, her eyes lost in the distance, in the huge mass of ships that swarmed along the coast.
"I will go back now, to Hatuna, as you wished. I.. can I ask you something, a favour for your wife, from you? Could you.. could you spare my brothers? They are sworn to the Svend the Usurper, by the law and by the church, especially now when Denmark faces a pagan invasion.. but I would like if you could spare their lives, and their lands, at least some of them. I know their armies will probably fight you, but if you can...at least some of them?"
Despite himself, and his desire to take all of Denmark, and his constant mistrust and grudge towards Christians, he smiled at her.
"Seems that with you, every favour I get, makes me I own one too." She tried to say something, but he put a finger over her mouth. "No, don't. Had the fate been kinder, I might as well love my brothers, and my nephews too, like you love yours. I will see what I can do. I can not promise about every holding and town, and Syaland, I must have whole, but I will try to spare at least some of their lands. Svend is a famed warrior, and a Varangian too. I would want him as my vassal and commander. Blekyngh we need to capture too, but Benedikt doesn't need to die. Others, I will try to avoid, and if I meet them in battle, I will look to spare them, as long as they do not insist on fighting me, or my warriors unto death."
"I thank you, for this mercy. I will sleep at least with some peace in my heart.

Jarl Erik af Munsö, Gunhild Estrid and Ragnar Eriksson af Munsö​

It took a lot of diplomacy and persuasion, to secure that Ragnar be sent to England, to be fostered by William the Conqueror, the King of England. A pagan son of a pagan king. Still, partly by diplomacy of Gunhild who travelled to England personally, as en envoy of Jarl Erik, and guarantees from her, back than still living father, the deal was made. Ragnar was to obey his guardian, and to be treated with all respect and hospitality that befits the King's son. William was forbidden from forcefully converting Ragnar to Christianity.. but the agreement also meant that Ragnar could convert to the religion of the cross, if he done it by his own free will, and could be baptised between the ages of twelve and sixteen, and upon his sixteenth name-day he is to return to the Kingdom of Sweden. Jarl Erik could only hope that Ragnar will remember things he thought him when he was still young, that he will remember his ancestors and his land. And if not.. well, he was his only son, and Erik did not know what he would do, if his son came back as a Christian.

Taken from the Chronicles of Athelstan


The bay was filled with ships, as far far as the eye could see to the line of horizon. Some were going back towards the sea, some were still unloading soldiers, others were only coming. More than three hundred, or three hundred and fourteen ships, to be precise, gathered at the call of King-Jarl Erik of Sweden. Knarrs and drakkars and a even some karves*, from very small ones, to some longer than 30 meters. Thirty five thousand men, gathered under the banner of Jarl Erik. Troops from his vassals, as well as his own, adventurers, raiders and looters, who came when they heard a large invasion army was amassed. Pagans, expelled from the Christian regions, as well as those seeking revenge, or to restore lands they held previous to their expulsions. Even Christian lords from Sweden, and many Christian adventurers, fame seekers, or simple poachers and other thugs who fled and were hoping to return to their homes, found new ones, or simply earn some riches during the war and their service. Jarl Erik strengthen his grip on Sweden, and made even his Christian vassals join his invasion of Denmark, on the pretext of restoring his wife's crown and lands. For a brief period, Erik considered conquering Norway first, as they were locked in a decade and a half long series of wars against Skottland, but the pretext of restoring his wife to the throne, and the possibility of making some friendly relations with some Christians, King William first among them, meant that Denmark was much more important, and richer target. As Kings of Denmark had ruled England, and still laid claim to it, William was willing to both support Jarl Erik's claim that his Christian wife is a true ruler of Denmark, and to promise to stay neutral when the invasion begins. The fact that William also took Ragnar, was meant to seal the pact, and William swore upon a cross and his sword, that he will treat Ragnar like his own son, and will raise and protect him, and not allow any harm to come him.

Invasion of Denmark
Phase One: Skåne Campaign

Swedish troops landed at first in Skåne, most of them came by the sea, but some part of the forces travelled by land. Although such an invasion could hardly be kept a secret, King Svend III of Denmark did not expect it to begin so soon, and in the middle of Winter, when there were still snows all over Gautland and Skåne. Jarl Erik, decided to put his experience of battling and supplying troops during Winter** and came down on Skåne, Even worse for the Danes, Jarl Torgils, Duke of Skåne was old and bedridden,*** and completely taken by surprise and his three thousand troops could not stand against ten times their numbers, even if they were well prepared. Pagan forces managed to quickly occupy the central region of Skåne, and make it their base of operations for further incursions against the Danes. The back of the Danish was effectively broken, at the Battle of Piksborg, only six months after the war begun. Being outnumbered, and with Swedish control of Skåne, Svend III gathered his forces, and tried to surprise the pagans, by transporting his troops across Kattegat and advancing at their forces through Västergötland, lands belonging to Sweden, but under the control of Halsten Stenkil, deposed King of Sweden. Having taken the crown from him, as well as killing his three brothers, there was little love between Halsten and Erik. Still broken from the civil war for the crown of Sweden, his lands looted and forces depleted, Halsten had to accept Jarl Erik as his King, but he did not supply any troops, nor did he opposed the Danish incursion into the Swedish lands. Still it was not enough, it only took a short time for the numerous, but mobile pagan forces to turn north, and engage Danish army. Another advantage was that the region of Finnveden was still largely pagan, and thus local population was friendly towards Jarl Erik, despite the fact that the region was nominally part of Halsten af Stenkil's lands. Despite the help from Halsten, the numbers proved decisive, as well as excellent leadership of Jarl Erik, who positioned his troops on a wide front, first using his bowmen, slingmen and spearmen to fire at the enemy, while approaching in orderly fashion, and then due to his numerical superiority, allowing his extreme left and extreme right flank to quickly turn inside and outflank the enemy, forcing them into a crescent moon shape and slowly pushing them inside. Danes managed to avoid complete encirclement only by realizing their peril fairly quickly, and turning to run from the field. Still, the battle was a massacre, and for the rest of the war, Danish forces were broken, unable to recover. True to his word given to his wife Gunhild, Swedish forces avoided Halland, and advanced towards Syaland and the Danish isles, leaving small forces behind to take control of the besieged, isolated holdings.


Battle against Jarl Torgils of Skåne

Pagan Army advance towards Skåne

Battle of Piksborg



Phase Two: Conquest of Syaland

After the battle of Piksborg, in the autumn of 1082, news of the battle, and the Christian disaster spread across Europe. Staying true to his word, King William de Normandie stayed neutral, and continued to foster the child of Erik af Munsö and Gunhild Estrid. King Olav III of Norway was locked in another war with Skottland. But two realms, came to the aid of King Svend of Denmark. One was Chiefdom of Wagrien, under Budivoj Nakonid. A small Wendish county, unlike most of the Wends, they accepted Christianity. Their involvement in the war was brief, but worth mentioning because they paid the heavy price for it. After losing most of their troops in one of the battles against the Swedish pagans, Nakonids were ousted from Wagrien and the Lübeck region by Slavic High Chiefs of Veligrad, and although Krutoj of Veligrad paid for this conquest with his life, the Baltic coast was again dominated by the pagans. Thus begun the second part of the war, in which Heinrich III "The Black" Salian, Emperor of the Holy Roman Empire joined his forces with the Christians from Denmark. Although there were squabbles between Denmark and HRE because of contested possessions in Holstein, one can safely assume that the main reason why Heinrich Salian joined the war, was because he was excommunicated by the Pope, and saw this either as an opportunity to remove excommunication, or as a means to prove himself to other Christian rulers that the excommunication was unjust, and that he was the true leader of the Christian world and the rightful Emperor.

Swedish pagan army approaches Syaland, after conquest of Skåne
Syaland, known as Sjælland or Zealand today, was part of the Sweden, until the goddess Gefjon took it, and moved it placing it in the sea between Skåne and Jutland, thus creating the largest island of Denmark. While the story is just a part of the Norse legends, it shows why some Kings of Sweden, considered it to rightfully belong to Sweden, although it's important place on the trade route between Baltic and Atlantic, between Scandinavia and Europe, as well as it's fertile land were probably more important factors. By the time the army of Emperor Heinrich III Salian reached the coast of the Baltic Sea, pagan army was already besieging Christian towns and holdings on the island. Pagans had large numerical superiority in ships, but most of the ships were busy taking plunder from the looting on the Danish isles and southern Skåne. Emperor decided to try to outmanoeuvre and outsmart Erik and his heathen horde, to cut them off on the island, by moving his army across the sea and to land in central Skåne, region now controlled by pagans, but with few men and scarce defence since almost all of the army was busy on Syaland and Lolland. Swedish fleet was spread across the vast area of water, divided into smaller groups, so the Christians managed to cross the Baltic unopposed, but the raiding and scouting ships did noticed them, and thus informed Jarl Erik and his commander Faste of Dal, who by the was was Christian, but rose high in the service of Jarl Erik, just in time. Using their numerous ships as their advantage, they managed to force Christians to disembark in the central Skåne region, while at the same time some twenty thousand strong army, divided into southern and northern armies, crossed back from Syaland to Skåne. As the news of the approaching pagan army reached Guilhem de Lyon, Count of Forez, he ordered his army to retreat north, towards the land of Halsten af Stenkil, hoping to spark a rebellion against the pagans in Gautland, or to outrun Jarl Erik, reach Lödöse and using Danish fleet cross the Kattegat to Jutland. The plan fell to pieces, as the pagan army marched in speed and caught them in Finnveden. Their forces met at the Battle of Tummæthorp, in the summer of 1083. The battle was a bloody affair, and several thousands died on the fields that day. Although far superior in numbers, outnumbering the combined Danish-German army two against one, the battle was a close encounter, and only the late charge of the húskarlar and Erik's personal guards, broke the lines. Christian armoured heavy cavalry inflicted heavy losses on the pagans, who mostly fought on foot, and had only light speedy cavalry, used either as scout or to pursue fleeing enemy.

The Battle of Tummæthorp 1083
Swedish forces were led by Jarl Erik, who despite his advancing age refused to stay out of combat, and led the centre of the battle. His experience in the war so far, combined with his desire to learn about great generals of the past, had made him a skilled and decisive commander. Strangely, his hirdman, and most trusted commander was Herra Faste of Dal, skilled and fearless commander, who led the left, while the other flank was given to Jedvard, Älderman of Västerås. Against them stood Guilhem, count of Forez, and with him the Danish Prince, Aser of House Thrugot, son of King Svend the Third. At first, Christians had the upper hand, pinning the centre of the pagan army with their bowmen, while their cavalry strike the flank commanded by Farste of Dal. Pikemen and spearmen could hardly withstand the wedged charge of armoured warriors while at the same time being pushed from the front by Christian infantry. Casualties were heavy on both sides, and soon the fields turned from green to red, but the timed arrival of second part of the pagan army turned the tide of the battle. As the pagan pikemen advanced with bowmen behind them, the bulk of the heavy infantry, with most húskarlar, hirdman and berserkers charged the Christian lines, forcing them to turn their left flank towards them. Despite charging uphill, the numerical superiority and battle experience tipped the battle in their favour, and the flank, consisting mostly of already battered Danish troops under Prince Aser broke and fled. At that moment, the battle was turned, and although the forces of the HRE were able to withdraw in a more orderly fashion, they were forced to fled the field and flee north-west in the lands of Halsten af Stenkil or towards Norway. Few reached the shores of Kattegat and managed to board the ships that Danish king sent for them.
t
Experience gained during war and conquest​

At that moment, the backbone of the Christians in Scandinavia was broken. Although good deal of the throops from Germany survived, many were scattered to various corners of Sweden, forced to hide from pagan population. Some died of starvation or cold weather when the winter came, others reached Norway, few were picked up by ships along the Kattegat coast, and some even fled as far as Åland Islands. Danish king was left with virtually no army, and no money to raise or buy new one. Heinrich the Holy Roman Emperor, lost a great number of his troops, faced further setback and humiliation, as the Church used this defeat as a sign from god that the emperor is cursed for his crimes and for standing against the Pope. In the next few years, revolts sprouted like mushrooms after rain throughout the Empire. And, for the Jarl Erik the way towards Jutland and Slesvig lay open and undefended...


*Types of viking ships
**It is hard to imagine that any large scale significant battles could happen during winter in real life, but since CKII has such a way of simulating battles and campaigns, I had to come up with some reason why I was able to move 30 000 troops (although split in stacks, to avoid attrition) during Winter.
***He was infirm at fist, than at later stages of the war became incapable.
****The legend comes from the Norse mythology. Syaland, or Sjælland or Zealand as it is spelled today. Not to be confused with Zeeland in Netherlands, or New Zeeland down under. Not all linguists and historians agree, but it's quite possible that both Zealand (Denmark) and Zeeland (Netherlands) have the same name origin, 'sea-land', but I will leave that debate for the linguists.
*****As you can see, I gained a trait a few months before, in some smaller battle.


Additional Screenshots:





Troop numbers on 1st January 1082, and centralization of power in Sweden, just before the war (1078-1082)


Troop movement during the War in Skåne.

Important Battles and troop movement 1082-1087

Note: For the war, I implemented the tested strategy, I divided my forces into two, roughly 10k stacks, and the rest, some 6k, into 3 smaller, roughly 1.5k, 2.5k, and 3.5k sized stacks, as well as my 1250 retinue. Smaller armies, I turned into raiders, and moved them first, and then the larger ones, after the main battles were done. With this I first looted, and then besieged and took most of the Danish provinces in Skåne. As said above, I left Halland since they were mostly ruled by Estrid's, the brothers of my wife, so I did not neither looted nor conquered them, besides it wood really take too long. The first year was easy, but after the autumn of 1082, HRE joined the war, so I faced some 20k. Good thing, AI is not very smart, and divided his troops, so I quickly dispatched them one by one. I forgot to take screenshots for every battle, because things got heated and interesting, and I played late into the night. I also ransomed most of the prisoners, and left my own and vassal levy as a back up. I did raised them at the begining, but used them in the background to siege down Värend, Njudung and later Vaester Skåne. Also, it was a lot easier than expected, I was really afraid of HRE but I don't know if it was to avoid attrition or what, and they did hade a few peasant revolts, but most of them were crushed before their troops arrived. HRE AI tried to move troops via ships to Skåne, but he did not stacked them together, and later tied to land and Lödöse, hence I took me 4-5 battles against smaller forces. The only really challenging was the Battle of Tummaethorp, because of the HRE-Danish army led by two capable commanders and having almost two thousand heavy cavalry.

Sorry for the long delay between updates, between work, studying, working out and having a social life, I do not have enough time. To make matters worse, I once wrote almost hole chapter then accidentaly deleted it, and had to start almost from scratch.
 
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GoldenShotgun

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The opening scene with Erik and Estrid was touching; great character development and set the stage for the coming war quite nicely. (Plus, some foreshadowing with Erik's son being sent away...that could bite Erik in the arse later.)
 
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RhaegarTelcontarTargaryen

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The opening scene with Erik and Estrid was touching; great character development and set the stage for the coming war quite nicely. (Plus, some foreshadowing with Erik's son being sent away...that could bite Erik in the arse later.)
I had a few events fire, that improve relations between ruler and his wife, so I went with options that improve relations for some cost, and got her opinion of Erik into solid +30.. so I thought it was fitting to kinda make their relations a bit warmer, which I always wanted but was hard to do with all the negatives.:cool:

I hope he turns out OK, I got an event in which William asks to change his upbringing focus or something, which I declined, but so far no negative events, he is still being raised by William, and I must say it looks like a good decision his stats and traits are incredible. He has a couple of years left, I haven't played much after 1086.

Also, I hope I will get at least another update soon (in my life that would be 5 to 10 days). I wish I could do this faster, but alas..

And big thank you to everyone following, reading or commenting this AAR. :D
 

Demetrius Asleifrson

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För Sverige, för kungen, för de gamla gudarna!
I don't speak to Swedish :)
Do not fear for your son? I would be afraid if the case took Christians.
 
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Just read this, and I must say I really like your writing style. And you have a good taste in music as well. I hope you're still working on this.
 
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I hope you're still working on this.
Thank you everyone, and yes, it is alive. I am pretty slow with updates, mostly because of my job, and also I've been away for a week, went to a metal festival in Czech Republic, but it's still on. Sorry for being very slow with updates, but real life responsibilities.

I hope your heir isn't swayed to the cross.
I hope so too, I haven't played much in the last few weeks, so far he has around one year left until he comes of age, and he is still pagan. I expected it to be harder, and even considered should I reload or go with it, if he turns Christian, but so far so good.
 
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Chapter VIII: Valhall Awaits Me
When I am dead,
Lay me in a mound.
Place my weapons by my side
For the journey to Hall up high
When I am dead,
Lay me in a mound.
Raise a stone for all to see
Runes carved to my memory*


The ceremony was grand, the largest feast hall was full of people, both guests and servants filled it, making a clamour of shouts, toasts, mugs and plates. At the centre of the hall, on a decorated seat, sat a young man, tall, broad of shoulders and with long strong hands. His eyes were green-blue, and his hair was long, and of reddish tint, tied with a thin strip of cloth. He was smiling, as he enjoyed beer and meat and meed, but but his eyes were keen, and a keen observer could notice that he spent more time actually looking around the hall, scanning, than he spent drinking and eating. To his right side, on a seat a bit lower, sat a beautiful woman, richly dressed, decorated with rings and necklaces of silver and gold. Around her neck hung a golden cross, and around her head she wore a thin ring, as a small crown, that reflected the fires of the candles and made her blue eyes even more beautiful. Two figures, in hooded robes stood to his left, their black robes adorned with runes and various patterns, made of silver. At the other side of the hall, there were several musicians playing, and most of the guest have been drunk by now. The crowning went as planned, with a certain ceremonial calm and dignity, but the young Viking had never been the one for pomp and ceremony. The beautiful elderly lady of course, was the queen, wife to Jarl Erik, and mother to the young, beautiful Prince Ragnarr. Well now King Ragnarr.

"So, how does it feel to become a King in your own right?"
"It is good to be back home, but I wish father had lived longer. I know the two of you were not.. well, you did not wed out of love, but that is what often Kings and Princes must do. But he did treat you well. It is barely a year since I came back."
"Well, he did, it could be much worse. Maybe it was too much to hope for a perfect marriage as a young girl, but he did respected me. More important, he gave me children, you and your two sisters. You shall take care of them, I hope. I don't wish that you squabble with them, as many rulers do with their cousins and siblings. I .."
"Don't worry" he interrupted, "I will treat them well. Still I wish father lived longer. I was preparing to leave England when your letter reached me, but I wasn't going back to Sweden. After my sixteenth nameday, I was bound to Miklagard, I was supposed to join the Varangian guard. Who would have thought that in the next two years, Roman Empire would fall*?"
"Indeed who would. Many thought impossible for your father to take the throne of Sweden, let alone conquer Denmark**."
"You loved him for it?"
"I respected him for it. Although there was certain affection, our relationship was more about respect than love. But I love him for leaving all that to you. When my father lost the throne, he promised to take it back for me. Well, maybe he didn't crown me Queen of Danes, but some of my brothers still rule parts of it, and he made you King, the Greatest Scandinavian King since Knútr the Great. But Romans are not the only ones to fail. Frankia is in disarray, all of their southern lands in rebellion, and Iberia in a struggle between Christian brothers and Muslim emirs. Two greatest threats to you right now, are William and Heinrich. So tell me, how is your relationship with Conqueror?"


The Kingdom of King Ragnar af Munsö
"He loves me like a son, he said it himself. He said he wished I was his son, so he could leave his Kingdom to me. Well he could be faking it of course, but I believe he spoke from his heart. He is old, as old as the father was, and will not live much longer I'm afraid. But his children.. well Robert died even before I was sent to England, and Richard and William are.. dutiful at best. They were neither hostile nor friendly while I was being fostered, but if any of them inherits the throne.. England is ripped apart by rebellions, and the only thing that keeps it whole, is Williams ingenious mind. He fights like Thor, only with his sword, and he has no equal as a general on the field of battle. He taught me much and more, but I doubt I could match him, if we were on the opposite sides, unless we fought on a serious disadvantageous terms for him. But he will not live long, and if he dies, what then? I can not say. His grandson, Richard, son of Richard, seems a bright lad, and he could grow to become a worthy heir, but he is only ten years old. Had I stayed a few more years, I could make friends, maybe, with him or one of his sisters, or aunts or cousins. But I felt it was time to go, they held reserve for me. I played a curious mind about their god, so that they thought that I would become Christian in the end, so they didn't cause me much trouble, well nothing serious at least. But I couldn't do it forever and I wanted to travel to Miklagard. While we are at it, I think William saw through my game, but still kept me as his ward. Only your letter of father's deteriorating health made me change my mind, and come back. Oh I learned a lot about your god, don't worry, and.. well I don't hate Christians, at least not all of them. But I never even considered becoming one. I hope you... " She broke him mid sentence. "I understand, you are my son. Whichever god you fancy, you are my son. Never think anything else"
His voice trailed off..."At least I got to see him, and serve as his general, if for only a short time. And I got to be at his side, as we lit his funeral pyre"


Sweden was made rich by the plunder and ransoms from Denmark

The Funeral pyre of Jarl Erik af Munsö, King of Sweden and Denmark

Later that night, when most of the guests were blindly drunk, an attractive lady approached the newly crowned King, and whispered in his ears, while the bards and minstrels kept playing for the very drunk guests. Some already left to their chambers and huts, some were sleeping on the tables, among drinks and food and servants.
"So, how does it feel to be home? How does it feel to be King?" She had a honey blonde hair, where his mother Gunhild had copper, her eyes were more green, and she was a bit younger, probably in her mid thirties, but still very beautiful. By the way she walked, and displayed her curving breasts, she knew it too.
"Good. Tell me, are the rumours true, have you slept with him?" He was blunt to the point, probably because he was a bit drunk. Not blindly drunk, but after some beer and mead, he did not feel like playing games, most courtiers play.
"Yes, yes I did. At first I did not want to, out of respect to your mother, but of late they didn't even share the same bed, so I saw no harm in it. She was hardly going to be jealous at me for it. And I was never the pious, god loving woman, your mother was. Although I do hope she is kinder to you for being pagan, than she was to your father."

"But, you were married to a King. He took that away from you. Than he took him too."
"You think your parents are the only one who married out of political gains? My father gave to Halsten, as he gave your mother to his brother Erik. When your father Erik, slayed her first husband, and took her unwillingly for his wife, our father consented, because he was worried he will face war which he wanted to avoid. But my marriage was much worse. My only son died of sickness,*** he became even worse. He was depressed and brooding because he lost his crown, the crown of his father to Jarl Erik. After he lost a son too, he became cold, distant. I will not lie, I would love if he stayed King, and we had many children, but I might as well wish for me to mount up the moon and ride it around the sun. I didn't even had children, at least not ones that lived long enough, that your parents have to push them together, and at least give them some connection. So after Halsten died, and have no mistake, I don't doubt for a second it was on Jarl Erik orders, although I will not claim that publicly.. well I was free, but also lonely and broken. And you pagans don't give a damn about sanctity of marriage so..."

"You remember the feast, after the great midsommar blot? After that usurper pig Svend Thrugot was given to Odin, I was so happy, after many months, years... so that is when it started. Your mother asked to stay in the castle, not wanting to witness pagan rituals and sacrifices, despite the fact that she hated the bastard as much as I did. If not for him, our father would probably live longer, and a king at that."
As she spoke she slowly run her hands across the chest of a young King, playfully biting her lip while she looked at him. "Would you like the same? I am old I know, but not that old, and I know a few tricks, I doubt those young girls would even think about?" He stared blankly at her, confused and without a word.
"What is the matter? You are not a virgin I take, I heard a few stories about your... mischiefs in England. They are true I take."
He regained his composure quickly. "No, it's not that. I have had a few woman. But.. you should be hating me, hating my father. And you are my mother's sister, at that."
"Her half sister, if you are so into details. I am a widow. A widow from a long and unhappy marriage. I have no children, my father is dead and buried, and I am close to forty. I might find a husband, become some count's second wife, or a wife to a thirdborn son of some Duke... but I doubt, the north is still in disarray, and Christians are still in fear from the victories your father and that King of Lietuva won against them.. I doubt any marriage worth consideration would come my way. So you see, the pleasures of the earth and flesh, are the only thing I have left in my life, to keep my blood running, my heart beating, and my soul from breaking..."

In the early hours before dawn, after the feast was all but ended, King Ragnar was said do disappear in the chambers of his simple Castle, having enough of songs, tales, food and drink. However certain rumours said his one appetite was not quenched at the feast, and that Princess Ingrid af Estrid accompanied him to his private chambers. That talk must surely not be true, given that she was not only twenty years his senior, but also a sister (a half-sister actually) to his mother, Queen Gunhild.​


Left: Gunhild Estrid, Queen of Sweden. Right: Ingrid Estrid, once Queen of Sweden and Princess of Denmark​




*ERE had something like six rebellions at the same time, and was then conquered by Bulgarians. Most of the provinces remain Greek, some are subjugated, some independent. But HRE title is destroyed. This irritated me so much, I considered abandoning this AAR, but I will see what can be done about it. Made me think about conquering and putting a Christian af Munsö as the emperor, but that would probably take centuries.
**Denmark title got destroyed, so technically I only own one kingdom, but I control all of Denmark
***I had no part in young Stenkil dying, he died of illnes.

I decided to try and speed up things a bit, since it would take forever to go with this AAR at this tempo. I played a few years from where I left off, I pillaged most of Denmark, than made peace and took all land. I gave some titles, created a few new dynasties from some courtiers that served me well, either as commanders or councillors. I hold a blot, where I executed both Sven Sverker, Jarl of Östergötland, and Svend Turgot, former king of Denmark, who was left landless and captive after my invasion of Denmark. Aside from that, when I gave out titles, I kept some land, over my demesne limit, around 18, but the titles I gave, mostly to pagans (I landed Ingevald af Bjälbo, and made him Steward, since his stewardship was like 23). I considered leaving Thurgot, Stenkil and Sverker dynasties, to give them some land so that I have "historical" houses as vassals, but that would leave me with most of my vassals Christian, and I can not afford it, given that I need both money and levies. I made peace in January 1088, and Erik the Heathen died in the autumn of 1090.
When I granted land, it pushed my plot to assassinate Halsten af Stenkil to 300%, and within few months he was dead, and I wasn't discovered.

Meanwhile, France collapsed, Aquitaine declared independence, and ERE was conquered by Beçenek (Pechenangs, if I am correct). To my dismay, Komnenon dyansty gained power as they ousted Dukas, but instead of consolidating power, there was rebellion after rebellion, which resulted in most of Asia Minor conquered by Sultanate of Rum, and European and Asia Minor cost by Beçenek Khagan.

Also Kingdom of Lietuva formed, with a strong ruler, who managed to defeat Polish invasion, and then conquer Pinsk from Kievan Rus.

I had many other events, but nothing of special note just the usual events you get in any play-through, I had quite a ransoms from several captured characters, most notably some from HRE during the war in Denmark. Erik had 3 children, Ragnar, and two daughters, the younger one born with a genius trait. I also had another genius, daughter from a Jarl of Järnbäraland, educated by Jarl Erik, and she got quite a good stats, but since Ragnar is only 18 at this point, I will try to leave him unmarried for some time, and play a warrior king / viking a bit.
I hoped he would get an adventurer or Varangian event / trait while Erik was alive, but nothing came out of it, and I didn't feel like cheating that in, although I had come up with a great idea for Varangian part of the story, but I guess hopefully his son might become one. On top of it ERE did get destroyed -.-
 
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Saxon125

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Jun 22, 2014
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Also, like others have said you do not need to cover everything that goes on in your game. Only cover what you think is necessary, covering everything is just going to slow the AAR down. Still great AAR so far.
 
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