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    Real Strategy Requires Cunning

Dunaden

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The Lost Crusade

The True Story behind a Medieval Mystery


In 1339, Pope Martinus III declared the Seventh Crusade, wherein all faithful Catholics were called to help conquer Orissa from the Buddhists.



This Crusade was all but ignored as few Catholics had heard of Buddhists, let alone the Kingdom of Orissa and had little idea where it even was.

Initially, only the Count Aepak of Holstein and Duke Aleksander the Fat of Silesia answered the call, two small independent lords hoping for fortune and glory.






The Pope and the two lords raised their personal armies and marched east in search of the fabled Kingdom of Orissa.


Almost a year later in the waning months of 1340, Emperor Edward of Marcaich-Shine,




following his victory over the adventurer, Prince Wolfgang Salian, in his second war for the Marcaich–Shine Empire, also pledged his support of the Crusade. In the spring of 1341, the Emperor's 6th son, Prince Lennon Laird, and 10,000 men including the Knights Hospitaller, marched from his lands in Jerusalem to follow the Pope east.

The Emperor also informed his cousin, Heinrich X, Emperor of the Holy Roman Empire, that his brother, Wolfgang, had enthusiastically chosen to join the Crusade as well (though rumors that the Prince had been sent in chains to the muster point in Jerusalem persisted).

These four armies, all told some 20,000 men total, traveled east through the Muslim lands of the Fatimid, Abyssinia, and the Seljuk into the Hindu Kush mountain range and disappeared from history.

In 1350, after nearly 10 years with no word at all from the Crusade, the Church announced the election of a new Pontiff, Pope Silvester IV. The new Pope quietly declared the Crusade for Orissa a failure and spoke no more about it. Silesia and Holstein asked the Church about the fate of their missing Lords. The Church's answer is not recorded, however, no objections were raised from the Church when the heirs laid claim to those titles. The Storm Rider Emperor and his family quietly mourned their lost son.

The ill-fated Crusade for Orissa faded from memory and the Christian world moved on.


However, in the mythical lands of Hindustan, this Lost Crusade would not so easily be forgot.

*************************************************************************************************************************************
Table of Contents

*************************************************************************************************************************************

Author’s notes

This is my second attempt at an AAR, the first stalled early.

This AAR takes place almost 300 years after a Scottish exile and his followers became a vassal clan to the Khagan of Cumania. A descendant of that clan found himself winning a Crusade for a country half a world away from everything else he owned which lead to this story.

I didn't decide to try and do an AAR on this until after the Crusade was over, so did not have any screenshots during the war, I pulled the shots from an earlier save for some background information and pieced rest of war together from memory and the Laird Chronicle.

This will be played with all DLCs except the Conclave and associated patch, so will stay with version 2.4.5 with no mods, except one small one I created for the story. Will use the following house rules to keep with the premise is that the Christian world had no contact with the Crusaders after they marched, so :

- Will not call in any allies associated with family and marriages ties outside of India (will accept call to arms to
avoid prestige hits but not participate).

- Will make no marriages outside of India (won’t be able to stop AI from doing so but my characters
won’t.)

- Will use console commands to prevent inheritance of lands in India by characters in Europe especially if that
makes portions of Orissa become vassals of European rulers.
 
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Dunaden

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Prologue:



Prince Lennon Laird rode easy in the saddle. He had been quiet most of the morning, alone with his thoughts. Well as alone as one could be at the head of an armored column 5 miles long. There were approximately 10,000 men under arms in the column and almost half as many again that number of camp followers; families, drovers, servants, merchants, artisans, gamblers, pimps and whores, either living off the army or taking advantage of their protection.

As the leader of this horde, Lennon could ride out in front, away from most of the dust and noise of an army on the march. A march that had been going on for 6 months with no end in sight.

“Brother Martin told me this morning that today is the 20th of October. That means we’ve been on the march for 6 months and the closest outpost of the Empire is over 2,000 miles behind us. It got me to thinking about my ancestors, the true Storm Riders. They spent their whole life in the saddle and on the move, nomads who ranged the steppes north of us for 200 years when Cumania stretched from the Gobi desert to the Danube. They would laugh at our little trek of 2,000 miles and a mere 6 months in the saddle and even at the fact we still have another 3,000 miles or more to go.

But for all the extent of their empire and their years of wandering, I can at least say, I’m going somewhere no Laird has ever been. All on the whim of a mad man. “

Anfòs who had been riding half a sleep in the saddle next to Lennon snapped awake “My Prince, you shouldn’t say such things about the Holy Father.”



“Sorry, I know, but to call for a Crusade for Orissa, a land no one in the Christian world as ever heard of, does seem crazy. Although … the fact that no one ever heard of it does seem to indicate it was inspired by God. How else would Martinus have even known Orissa existed, if God hadn’t told him it must be destroyed.”

“I mean it took my father’s scholars and priests months even with the great libraries at Seville at their disposal to even find mention of this Kingdom of Orissa, and that was just rumors that it was somewhere in the utter east, south of the Roof of the World in Hindustan.”

“Anyway, whether the Pope is mad or not, the Emperor has sent us to support this Crusade. He felt he had to after the Holy See had indicated its displeasure in the Empire when Father failed to join the last Crusade for Finland. You'd think having won the two previous Crusades for the Church in Andalusia and Jerusalem would have let us off the hook.

“Of course my Prince.”

“Now where was I before we got sidetracked.”

“You were saying you are going where no Laird has gone before”

“Right. I guess I just mean to say I’m enjoying this adventure, this step back in time to when the Laird Clan was the largest and strongest of the horse clans of Cumania and roamed where they willed, before Tadhg the Victorious followed the examples of the Kutan and Osenvich Khagans before him and settled the clan in Aquitaine forming the Empire.

I’m glad Father chose me to lead this, though it was just luck of the draw. My older brothers had all been sent to foreign courts or had their own fiefs and my younger brothers were still in the nursery. So I was only one who could easily be uprooted and sent to the ends of the Earth. But when my Father told me he was sending me, he actually said he envied me this adventure.

I think I’m finally beginning to understand why he would. To be free of the squabbling and politics of the Empire, with the only concern the men you are with and where you are headed. And even if you thought about any of the troubles back there, you know there is nothing you can do about it, so no point in dwelling on it. I’m sure he would welcome such a respite from ruling an Empire.”

*******************************************************************************************************************

The Storm Rider army had headed east from Madaba, joining the Silk Road outside of Baghdad and following it northeast to Samarkand, one of the southernmost provinces of the newest Catholic Kingdom, ruled by Gilroy Mac Amhlaigh. Gilroy had been Khagan of one of the steppe hordes until he and his clan had decided to give up the nomadic life and settle permanently, with Gilroy crowning himself King of Turkestan. The Kingdom was so new, it did not appear on any of the Crusaders' maps.

From Samarkand, the Crusaders turned east into Khuttal, the last Catholic outpost. There they resupplied and hired guides from Earl Lulach Ilgazi for the journey over the Hindu Kush mountains. They traveled southeast through the high passes into the northern lands of the powerful Hindu Kingdom of Solanki which dominated western India and Afghanistan.

They followed the northern border of Solanki east into the heart of India. Lennon’s father had supplied the army with a generous war chest, so gifts were presented to the more powerful Raja’s and Rani’s as they passed through their lands and the foraging parties were instructed to pay for food and grain rather than pillaging. Lennon had no desire to have to fight his way across India and lose a good portion of his army before ever reaching his goal. The Solanki King sent troops to shadow his progress across the Kingdom but did not interfere, presumably happy to let this sizable force pass through unmolested... especially as they left gold in their wake.

Their path took them from the headwaters of the Indus River and the Plains of Punjab, along the edge of the Thar Desert and across the hills of central India before plunging into the denser jungles in the east. They left Solanki and their escort behind, and passed into the smaller Kingdoms of Kosala and Rashtrakuta. Finally in the spring of 1342, close to two years after they set out, their latest guide, a Hindustani from Domah, pointed to the distance mountain range rising to the east and simply said “ Orissa”.

 

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Chapter 1 - The Crusade for Orissa

With their goal finally in sight Prince Lennon called together the war council in his command tent, his own officers plus Grandmaster Luthbert Salian of the Knight Hospitaller and his lieutenants, as well as Tadhg Dunkeld (the former Duke of Albany), and Prince Wolfgang. The last two having plenty of experience leading armies, albeit both on losing sides, Tadhg in his failed attempt at the Scottish throne and Prince Wolfgang in his attempts to claim the Marcaich-Shine Empire. Lennon’s wife Princess Malusha Rurikid and their young daughter Eleanor retired behind a curtained partition in the back of the tent.

Maps were spread out across a makeshift table. The maps had been pieced together from information they had gathered in their march. Anfòs, who was one of Luthbert’s aides, had been in charge of collating the information that had been gathered, summarized the current situation:

“Orissa is made up of 3 duchies. Two run north south along the coast. The northern duchy includes the north end of the Eastern Ghats mountain range and the Mahanadi River delta. The southern duchy lies between the Eastern Ghats and the Bay of Bengal. The third duchy is west of the mountains and south of our current position.



There was a fourth duchy, where we are now encamped, but it is currently held by the Kingdom of Rashtrakuta. The Maharajah Devapala currently rules Orissa from his capital in Barasuru to our south.



The Maharaja seems to be skilled diplomat and decent ruler, but not very skilled at war.




But for all his skill in diplomacy, only the Maharaja of Pala appears to be the only king to have come to Devapala’s aid. So we are looking at maybe 5,000 to 10,000 enemy soldiers. We have little to no information on where these soldiers are currently.

As to the rest of the surrounding kingdoms, the ones to the south and west, Kalvani Chalukya, Chola, Kosala, Rashtrakuta, and Solanki are all Hindu, and should not interfere in a Holy war against a Buddhist kingdom. Bihar to the north is the only nearby Buddhist kingdom other than Pala, and they have not joined Orissa so far.





As to our allies, what information we have is sketchy, we know they had an 18 month lead on us setting out and that’s consistent with what we’ve heard that fighting started in Orissa about 18 months ago. The Maharaja of Orissa supposedly had a great victory early in the war, utterly destroying an enemy army. We suspect this was the Silesian forces, as later reports include descriptions of the Papal and Holstein banners, but none of the Silesian banners.

Currently, our most up to date reports indicate that 2,000 to 3,000 Crusaders are still active in the northern Duchy. We’ve still had no contact with them and, as they left 18 months before us, they may have no idea that we are even coming.

Lennon leaned forward, “Thank you, Anfòs”

“One last thing, my Prince. We have approximately two months until the start of the monsoon season. As I understand it, that means continuous rain and storms for 4 straight months.”

Lennon nodded to Anfòs and continued, “ So my lords, question is how do we best proceed.”

James Laird, one of Lennon’s kinsmen spoke first “We should move north immediately to support his Holiness and find out what he wishes us to do.”

“We just can’t head north and hope we run into the Pope’s army, we need to send scouts and make contact then arrange a rendezvous.” Prince Wolfgang said.

“That could take weeks, every day we wait we risk losing the Pope.”

“We don’t even know if Pope Martinus is still alive. If he is, he survived 18 months without us, and if he isn’t then no point to head off without a well thought out plan.”

“We don’t want to be on the march when this rainy season hits.” Anfòs chimed in . “We need a base camp for the families and supplies. Once we establish a base we send out patrols and spies to find both our allies and enemies. And be ready to move when the rains stop”

The discussion continued for several more hours, Prince Lennon and Grandmaster Luthbert sat back and let their subordinates discuss the pros and cons of the various options. Finally Luthbert thanked everyone.

“So we agree, we will send scouts to make contact with the Pope’s forces while the main army heads south toward Orissa’s capitol. The Orissans either do not know we have arrived, or have not had time to react. We should be able to get close to the capitol before we run into any major opposition. Once we defeat any opposition we will establish a siege camp outside Barasuru before the beginning of this monsoon season”.


*******


The first battle took place outside of Barasuru in June of 1342, the Marcaich-Shine army under Luthbert and Lennon defeated the army of Orissa, commanded by Maharaja Devapala of Orissa. The remnants of the enemy army retreated into the fortress at Barasuru.

Lennon’s army occupied the villages and farms surrounding the capitol and settled down for a siege that would last over year. Contact was made with the Papal forces and it was confirmed that both Pope Martinus III and Count Aepak of Holstein still lived. The Papal forces remained in the north, preventing any build up of resistance.

When the capitol in Barasuru finally surrendered in 1343 it was found that that Maharaja Devapala had slipped away. The army remained in the Barasuru province to also take the only other major settlement, the Vijhara of Dantewada.

In early 1344, following the end of the monsoon, the Storm Rider army was on the move, heading east into the Duchy of Kalinga. At Kalinganagar, they caught up with the Mahajara again and defeated his latest army, sending the survivors fleeing toward Swetaka Mandala. In June, they trapped the remains of the Orissan army and destroyed it. This army had been commanded by Thakur Gajnarayan of Khinjali Mandala, Mahajara Devapala had managed to escape again.

For the next three years, the Marcaich-Shine army moved up the coast in a series of sieges unopposed. The remaining papal and Holstein forces linked up with them to create a single combined army. While the Crusade had suffered no major losses in battle since the destruction of the Silesians, disease and accident had taken its toll on the men. Of the original 20,000 Crusaders less than 10,000 remained, with the Knights Hospitaller providing the core of the army.

Finally in 1347, the Maharaja managed to put together a last army and tried to retake Barasuru, Lennon led his army down to relieve the siege. The Orissans broke off the siege and fled north, but Lennon caught them in Cakrakuta and in two battles ended the threat.

In August 1347, as the monsoon was just beginning, Maharaja Devapala of Orissa surrendered to Prince Lennon.

The Crusade was over.




Shortly after the Maharaja’s surrender, the Pope’s secretary came to Prince Lennon’s tent and handed him a parchment, on it was written a proclamation that announced the successful Crusade for Orissa, that the Blessed Virgin had granted the Storm Rider Emperor Edward of Marcaich-Shine victory, and Pope Martinus III has called for a month of celebration across the Christian world, which at the moment consisted of the 8,000 Crusaders and their retainers in India.

“His Holiness has said that he will crown you King of Orissa in your father’s stead to work with the good bishops he will appoint to bring the Holy Word to the peoples of this, the newest of God’s Kingdoms. Then, once he is feeling well enough, he will return to Rome.”

Lennon looked into the sad eyes of the secretary, they both knew the Holy Father would never see Rome again. A disease called cholera had swept through Orissa in the past year killing many of the soldiers and other members of the Crusade. Lennon's wife Malusha had died as well as Tadhg Dunkeld, the former Duke of Albany. (Lennon had married Tadhg's young daughter, Kenna, soon after, the two had been brought together by their shared grief). The Pope had also fallen sick, but he had survived. Martinus had never been a strong man, and he had still not fully recovered from his bout with the disease. There was little hope he could survive a return trek to Rome at his age.

 

Tumultuosus

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Woah! What a ride that must have been! I'll make sure to follow this! ;)
 

Deaghaidh

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I'm deeply confused about the backstory. The family is scottish, but started as a clan of horse nomads that settled in Aquitaine? And there are other Scottish nomads who recently conquered Samarkand? And did you choose the target of the Crusade somehow?
 

caalexand

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Yeah, a world this weird needs some backstory :confused:Anyway, if you're gonna end up gobbling up much more of India, you could always head for Kerala....the Nasrani/St. Thomas Christians still live there today and some even reunited with Catholicism when the Portuguese set up at Goa. Some actual "oppressed" Christians, just like in the Crusade flavor text! :p
 

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Woah! What a ride that must have been! I'll make sure to follow this! ;)
Thanks, welcome aboard.

I'm deeply confused about the backstory. The family is scottish, but started as a clan of horse nomads that settled in Aquitaine? And there are other Scottish nomads who recently conquered Samarkand? And did you choose the target of the Crusade somehow?
Sorry for the confusion, added this brief note into the first post "This AAR takes place almost 300 years after a Scottish exile and his followers became a vassal clan to the Khagan of Cumania. A descendant of that clan found himself winning a Crusade for a country half a world away from everything else he owned which lead to this story."

I started a game in 1066 with a ruler designed Scottish nomad in Cumania and played 250+ years before the AI Pope called for a Crusade for Orissa which lead to this story. I will continue fill in bits of history between 1066 and the current date as the story goes on for color and background, but it won't impact the story as it will be isolated to India.
 
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TheAnguishedOne

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Such a strange start! I'll be following this unique version of history.
 

Dunaden

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Chapter 2 - The Spoils of War

On August 24,1347, Lennon Laird was crowned King of Orissa by Pope Martinus III in a tent in a muddy field.





The sides of the tent had been removed so the army standing in the pouring rain could see their leader crowned. Lennon would have dispensed with the tent and been crowned in the rain with his men, but in deference to concerns for the 75 year old Pope's health he had agreed to the awning over head.

A company blacksmith had fashioned a simple iron circlet with gold coins beaten flat and riveted to the iron. As the Pope placed the rough crown on Lennon's head he declared him God's champion and King of Orissa. The Pope also confirmed Lennon's daughter Eleanor as the Crown Princess and heir to Orissa, though that might change soon as the new Queen was eight months pregnant (Princess Eleanor and Queen Kenna were not at the war camp, but back in Barasuru).



Walan, the army's quartermaster and Aulay, the pope's envoy had determine the final tally, Lennon now had direct control of some 24 cities and temples, and 22 castles (12 of which were county capitals).

The lesser baronies and cities he divided up amongst the various contingents of the army. The ranking officers were granted the titles and they and their men were sent to take charge of their new castles and cities.

For the temples and religious centers, Lennon consulted with Pope Martinus to elevate bishops to take charge. A mix of Scottish and papal troops were distributed to the new bishoprics to help the new Bishops take control of the holy sites.

The higher titles would be distributed amongst the greater nobility and heroes of the war. Lennon first offered land and titles to Count Aepak of Holstein, with the condition that he swear fealty Lennon. The Count declined, saying he had his own lands that he needed to get back to, he was happy with the collected loot of 8 years of war to take back. So Lennon was free to distribute the titles to his own men.

First Lennon granted the Thakur of Puri to his kinsman James Laird.



Prince Wolfgang Salian was granted the Thakur of Barasuru. As well as being a Prince of the Holy Roman Empire, he was King Lennon's second cousin, actually with closer blood ties than Earl James Laird.



For Lennon's next two appointments he had to get the permission from Pope Martinus III and Grandmaster Luthbert to release Anfòs na Ceardadh and Manfredo Torchitorio from whatever oaths and fealty they owed to the Knights Hospitaller. Anfòs was the bastard son of the Duke Nitriya and the daughter of the Baron of Belvoir and his Egyptian wife. He had been served as intelligence officer, aide, and field commander throughout the Crusade and had distinguished himself repeatedly. His release was easily granted as he had not taken his final vows to the Order.

Manfredo was an Italian from Arborea. He had been Luthbert's right hand during the war, a brilliant man and leader. While Luthbert and the Pope had been amenable to releasing Manfredo, the man himself had been the hardest to convince. He was a zealous man who was committed to his knightly vows to the Order. The Pope finally convinced him that God needed men such as himself to rule over the heathens and bring them into the Church. The harder sell was trying to convince him to forgo his vow of celibacy. Both Pope and King emphasized his duty to produce an heir to help spread Christianity to these lands in the future. Manfredo reluctantly agreed to marry and produce an heir. To help things along, the King made sure to find a lusty young bride who was also told to do all within her power to produce an heir.

Manfredo was granted the Thakur of Nandapur.



Anfòs was granted the Thakur of Cakrakuta and also the Duchy of Dandakaranya which included Nandapur and Barasuru as vassals.



The new Earl Wolfgang protested that as a Prince of the Holy Roman Empire, he should be the Duke. King Lennon reminded him that he had twice raised armies to try and claim the Empire of Marach-Shine from Lennon's father. While Wolfgang had served well once he resigned himself to the fact that he had been unwilling pressed into this Crusade, King Lennon was not about to trust him with control of a third of his Kingdom.

The Thakur of Swetaka Mandala was granted to Alan a Sratha Balgaid, another bastard son of the Duke of Nitriya and half brother to Anfòs. Earl Alan was a good Scotsman and one of the best soldiers in the army who had served well throughout the Crusade. His mother had been Malina Laird, the sister of King Peter of Alania, and Alan was also married to another of Lennon's distant kin, Kentrigerna Laird.



The Thakur of Vizagipatam was granted to the Cuman warrior Borc, a minor noble. Borc was the finest soldier in the army, a brilliant strategist. He had been instrumental in Lennon's victories and was well deserving of an award. In Vizagipatam, he would be tasked with protecting the southern border.



The last titles to be handed out were to Walan, the quartermaster of the army. Walan was a commoner who's skills at managing the logistics of keeping the army fed and equipped for the last few years had been nothing short of miraculous for one so young. Lennon wished to transfer those skills over for the good of the Kingdom so he elevated Walan as Grand Mayor of Kalinga with the county of Kalinganagar and city as his personal fiefs.



He was tasked to take control of trade with the surrounding Kingdoms and build wealth. The Kingdom of Orissa was on the eastern end of one of the major trade routes and Lennon wanted Walan to tap into that. Walan took the name of de Melle to found his house. He split off several of his men to focus on different trades such as spices, silks, wootz steel, and other goods. These men would found their own trade houses; Andrew of Olifard, Duncan of Errol, Gilroy de la Haya, and Malcolm of Glaschu.

While Walan was nominally Duke of Kalinga, Lennon kept the remaining Earls of Kalinga as his direct vassals, as the nobles were not ready to accept a commoner as their liege lord.

Lennon kept the remaining five counties that made up the Duchy of Tosali as his personal demesne.




He decided he would establish his capital at Katak, a fortress on an island in the upper Delta of the Mahanadi River in the Thakur of Kataka.



With the titles and lands handed out, the army broke camp and split up, the barons, mayors and bishops following their new liege lords towards their new homes. Lennon also sent the barons, mayors and bishops who were his direct vassals in the Duchy of Tosali north to begin pacification of the native population. The King and the Knights Hospitaller headed south with Earl Wolfgang to Barasuru to collect his family and other retainers that had been left there for most of the war. Escorts from the Knights Hospitaller would deliver the wives and families of his new vassals to their new homes.

By the time King Lennon arrived in Barasuru, his wife, Kenna, had delivered Lennon’s second daughter. His seven year old daughter Eleanor had already taken to calling her new baby sister “Little Kenna” after her stepmother, and that name had stuck.





Pope Martinus and Count Aepak also traveled to Barasuru. They met with Lennon in Barasuru to discuss Count Aepak's return west. The Pope appeared to be recovering from the illness he had suffered near the end of the Crusade, but he was resisting any suggestions from his Bishops and attendants to return to Rome. The conversion of Orissa, he insisted, was the most important work of his Papacy and God still had one more essential task for him to do here before he could return to Rome. What that task was he didn't know, as God had not yet revealed it to him.

Based on this, Count Aepak would be charged with delivering reports, orders and letters to Rome and the Empire, as well as delivering the news to the Christian world of the Crusade’s success. Aepak would also be escorting a sizable train of treasure destined for Rome and Seville. The surviving Holstein army, supplemented with Papal troops, a small number of other Crusaders heading home, and a small contingent of the Knights Hospitaller, would stay in Barasuru as guests of Prince Wolfgang until the end of the monsoon and then strike west.

King Lennon, his family, the Pope and the remaining Knights Hospitaller marched north to secure his new capitol at Katak.
 

Tumultuosus

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Did you read "The black company" by Glen Cook, especialy the books of the south?
Because your AAR makes me think of it, and I believe it's a very good sign for the future! :)
 
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TheAnguishedOne

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Thank you for the detailed look at who your vassals are. Nice to know more of the players involved in your kingdom.
 

Deaghaidh

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This is a fascinatingly bizarre historical deviation. Unite India into the Scottish Raj, then convert to EU and conquer England with a mercantile company!
 

Dunaden

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Did you read "The black company" by Glen Cook, especialy the books of the south?
Because your AAR makes me think of it, and I believe it's a very good sign for the future! :)
Love Glen Cook, read all the Black Company books and actually just recently finished his Dread Empire Trilogy.

Thank you for the detailed look at who your vassals are. Nice to know more of the players involved in your kingdom.
It's these few against a subcontinent

This is a fascinatingly bizarre historical deviation. Unite India into the Scottish Raj, then convert to EU and conquer England with a mercantile company!
Not sure yet if I'll continue into EU, haven't played EU IV much at all.
 

Dunaden

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Interlude - Aepak’s Last Stand



Count Aepak of Holstein and his 600 men had made good time since leaving Orissa. They had enjoyed 3 months of rest in Barasuru while waiting for the rains to pass, and then had bid farewell to Prince Wolfgang and his court and headed west. They had passed through portions of Rashtrakuta and Kosala into Solanki without incident and the jungles were starting to thin out, making travel easier. The men were still in good spirits, they were heading home after a long absence, they would be heroes, and with the loot from Orissa, they would be rich. Not all the loot in the wagons and on the pack animals would return to Holstein, a large portion belonged to the Church and another chunk would be turned over to the Emperor of Marcaich-Shine, but there was still enough to make Holstein one of the wealthiest lands in northern Europe.

Count Aepak was daydreaming about the future, with this wealth and fame from the Crusade, he could potentially spin that into an advantageous marriage and alliance. Lennon had mentioned his brother Connor, the Crown Prince of Marcaich-Shine, had a couple of daughters who would be old enough to wed by the time Aepak returned to Holstein. With that kind of alliance, he could dream of claiming the entire Duchy of Holstein, or more.

His reverie and his dreams were broken when one of his captains rode up with a scout in tow.

“Yes? What is it?”

The captain motioned for the scout to speak.

“Milord, I was on point, sir. There is an army sir. Across our line of march, two days ahead. “

“Who are they? And which way are they headed?”

“They are Solanki, milord. 5,000 troops or more. And they’re not moving, they’re camped and they’re waiting… waiting for us.”

“Captain, send outriders north and south, see if there is a path around this army. No point in looking back the way we came, we’d never get back across the river before they caught us.”

“Already done, milord, But..”

“But what?”

“The Solanki know this land better than we ever will. They picked this spot to intercept us, I fear we are already caught in their trap.”

“I expect you’re right Captain, but maybe we’ll at least find a better spot to die.”

The Captain nodded grimly.

********************************

The northern outriders were back within hours.

“The jungle becomes much denser to the north, we’d have to abandon the wagons and most likely the horses and pack animals… and all the loot. We’d be on foot with just our weapons and what food we could carry.”

The southern outriders were back by morning.

“Another army, milord, heading this way. Think Kalv..Chaltay.. err.. the big southern Kingdom.”

“Hmm… maybe we walked into the middle of a war”

“Begging your pardon, milord, but no. There are Solanki banners with them as well.”

“Alright, thank you. Captain, order the army to form up, we continue west. We’ll parlay with the army ahead, see if we can talk or buy our way out of this. Maybe they’re just collecting a toll.”

**************

Aepak returned from the parley deep in thought. Bishop Franz, the papal envoy in charge of the Church’s portion of the spoils as well as responsible for all the reports and correspondence heading west to Rome and Seville, was the first to greet him at the edge of the camp.

“My Lord, what do these heathens want?”

“Only our silence.” The Count replied softly.

“My Lord? What do you mean? I don’t understand.”

“Bishop, I’m going to need your scribes to pen 4 copies of a letter. It is to read:

To Lennon Laird, King of Orissa, His Holiness Pope Martinus III and the Cardinals in Rome, Edward, Emperor of Marcaich-Shine, Heinrich X, Emperor of the Holy Roman Empire, and all Christian Kings.

Salutations.

Firstly, I bring you great news, the Crusade for Orissa has succeeded and His Holiness Pope Martinus III has crowned Lennon Laird, King of Orissa. A Catholic Kingdom has been founded in the heathen lands of India.

However, this new Kingdom of Orissa has many enemies. The Hindu Kingdoms of Solanki, Kalvani Chalukya and others have conspired together to isolate this new Kingdom and prevent any news of Christ’s victory in India from reaching Christian lands. They have intercepted all missives going west with this news and are murdering all Christians attempting to return home from the great Crusade in fear that this will encourage others to head east and join in King Lennon’s sacred charge to bring Christianity to India. We, men of Holstein and the other Crusaders with us, are about to suffer the same fate.

We are sending this message in an attempt to bring news of the Great Victory and the great crimes taking place in India. The response to this news we leave in yours and God’s hands.

Sincerely,

Aepak Nakonid, Count of Holstein, Commander of the Seventh Crusade”

“Please sign your own name to the letter as well, Bishop. Thank you”

Bishop Franz, his face ashen, only nodded and turned and rushed away.

“Captain, find our 4 best riders, be sure one can swim. And collect the four best horses, my own destrier, Khan, and 3 others.”


*******************

Later all the men were called together, Count Aepak climbed to the top of one of the wagons.

“Men, I have returned from a parley with the leaders of the army before us. I have no good news to tell you. The peoples of India mean to kill us all, they will give no quarter, accept no surrender. They have given us this day to make our peace with God. If you want to try and run, I give you leave to try, though I see little hope you will escape. I, and all who will stand with me, will do our best to take as many of the heathens with us and die with honor.”

Silence greeted Aepak’s words until a voice rang out.

“It’s not all bad news!”

Aepak turned to the grizzled sergeant who had shouted.

“What do you mean?” he asked.

The sergeant replied. “At least we will all die rich!”

The army roared in response.


********

In the darkness just before dawn, the Holstein cavalry charged the enemies lines northeast of their camp. In the center of the massed cavalry rode the 4 handpicked couriers bearing Aepok’s letter. The cavalry’s orders was to get the couriers through the line and then hang back to stop any pursuit. Three of the couriers were taking the missives west. The swimmer’s goal lay back across the river to the east, to Orissa.

Only two of the couriers made it through the line. The swimmer made it to the river, but was greeted by a flight of arrows as he climbed up out of the river on the far bank. The last courier eluded pursuit and entered the dense jungle to the north on foot. Unfortunately, two days later, a tiger caught scent of the fresh blood seeping from the wounds he had sustained in the break out.

********

Raja Hammir-Singh IV, the Solanki commander, made his way to the center of the Crusader encampment, skirting the grey mass of an elephant's corpse. Around him his officers were taking charge of the remains of the Christian baggage train and the treasure of Orissa. Under the red and white banner of Holstein, he found Count Aepak’s body. After staring sadly at the dead man for several minutes, he came to attention and saluted, and then turned and walked away.




In his report to the Mahajara, he concluded:

“As you have commanded, the Crusaders have been prevented from making their way west. Their leader, Count Aepak, was a brave and honorable man, I mourn the necessity of his death. However, now having fought these westerners, I bow to your wisdom, Great King. Further intrusions by such warriors must be prevented at all costs.”
 

TheAnguishedOne

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Well, I imagine that's setting the tone for the rest of the story. It'll be just you against a potentially united India. Survival alone will be a challenge... but I'll be hoping for something even greater. From a single Crusader Kingdom to a Christian India!
 

Tumultuosus

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With this kind of plot against you coming from the other kingdoms, I imagine the local populace of Orissa is also rather rebellious. Hope you can (or have already?;)) weather the storm.
 

Dunaden

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Chapter 3 – The First Council of Orissa

King Lennon allowed his lords close to a year to settle into their new positions and take control of their fiefs, just as he settled his family into their new home and figured out his own responsibilities and duties as King. Something as a sixth son he never expected to be.

In June of 1348, King Lennon summoned his Council to Katak to discuss the future of Orissa.



The Council consisted of Duke Anfòs as Chancellor, Grandmaster Luthbert the Monk of the Knights Hospitaller as Marshal, Grand Mayor Walan of Kalinga as Steward, Queen Kenna as Spymaster, and Bishop Aulay of Dhauli as the Court Chaplain.

Anfòs was a talented man who could served on Council in any capacity, but his diplomatic skill was paramount. Grandmaster Luthbert was not the greatest strategist in Orissa, both Earls Borc and Alan, were clearly more gifted, but the Monk was the most experienced soldier and more importantly he commanded the most powerful force in the Kingdom. The Knights Hospitaller were critical to the defense of the fledgling Kingdom. Walan had been, as head of merchants in Kalinga, a natural fit as Steward. The Queen was Lennons' closest confidante and had the necessary cunning to run the intelligence service for the Crown. Bishop Aulay, as well as be an exceptional scholar and theologist, was one of the Pope Martinus's most trusted aides and closest companions. King Lennon had offered the Pope a place at the Council, but the Holy Father had declined, saying there must be no confusion on who is leading the people of Orissa. He did add that he would always be available if the King needed spiritual advice.

King Lennon welcomed the Council to his new capitol at Kataka and called the meeting to order; “Gentlemen … and My Lady” nodding to his wife. “Welcome. I have called you here to discuss the future of Orissa. We have established a beachhead for Christianity on this heathen shore and we must do all in our power to protect and expand our position.”

“The first priority is the conversion of the native population. Bishop Aulay will be in charge of that effort, working with the local bishops across the realm. The Pope will of course provide advice and support to the Bishop’s efforts.”

Bishop Aulay responded. ”I have worked closely with his Holiness to determine the best doctrine to use with the natives. They are mixed group with several different religions and sects spread throughout the Kingdom. The three primary sects are the Buddhists, who we toppled from power, as well as the Hindu, which is the dominant religion of the most powerful Kingdoms to the south and west, and the Jain religion which are mainly followed by the peasants in central Orissa, There are countless temples devoted to these varying sects. Some quite beautiful with intricate carvings in the walls, although some of the content of these images are quite vulgar. As much as I would like to raze most of these sites, his Holiness has counseled against defacing these building while the majority of the population remain heathens. He and his attendants are studying these religions to help tailor our proselytizing efforts to each sect.

His Holiness is also encouraging the priests to learn the various languages to better help the natives learn our language.”

Anfòs chimed in. “We all have picked up a bit of the language to a varying degree during the war, but I agree that an in depth program to teach the language is necessary for my duties as well as Lord Walan’s trade arrangements and the Queen’s agents. “

Luthbert growled “ You already look and speak well enough to pass for a native, you should be working for the Queen.”

Queen Kenna agreed, “I could certainly find use for more men skilled in native languages as well as natives skilled in our language. Duke Anfòs would be welcome, but I fear my husband has other tasks for him.”

“The Queen will need to find employees elsewhere.” Lennon smiled.

Queen Kenna said ”My resources are limited so far, finding men who can be trusted or bought... and trusted to stay bought is a slow process, especially as noted with the language issues. But the work continues, with the help of Walan’s connections through the ports and other avenues we are getting a picture of our neighbors’ activities and hopefully soon be able to anticipate them.”

“Also, the Bishops and Mayors are instructed to report to me any news of unrest among the native subjects and any signs of outside interference.”

The King turned to his Steward, “ Walan you continue to assess our available resources?”

“Of course, your Highness, we have identified the regions for the various crops and goods. We are taking inventory and determining the value of the different silks, cottons, spices, and metals to the surrounding markets. We..”

Luthbert interrupted. “That Wootz steel, we’ll be needing that for weapons and armor, before you start trading it all away. Finest steel I’ve ever seen, half the army replaced their swords with Indian tulwars and daggers during the war, since they were much finer quality than our own weapons. Need proper swords made from that steel”.

“You and the King have already made that quite clear, Grandmaster. The bulk of the stock has been diverted to the crown, and we have identified the local Oriyan smiths who are masters at working with the material to work with our weaponsmiths and armorers.”

“Good, good.”

“Anyway... coastal shipping is the main trade route for goods in this area. We had few European sailors on the Crusade, so we are currently dependent on the local captains, but we are making progress on coming to an understanding with them.”

“Thank you, Walan. Luthbert, how are things looking on the military front?”

“Well first off, my Knights Hospitaller are practically back to full strength. I recruited heavily from papal levys, found many who would rather join us than march 5,000 miles back across the world to resume life as farmers and serfs. Got a few Holsteiners, but most stuck with Count Aepak.”

“Most of your vassals levy are close to full strength, they have a good core of Storm Rider troops and are training up native levy to supplement that. Within the Royal Demesne, a quite a bit more work is needed. Your personal troops are spread across the 5 counties of Tosali and are needed for garrison duty, so need a greater influx of native troops to get you up to full strength. We are having to start from scratch teaching them to fight in proper style. They keep asking why we don’t use elephants.” He ended with a sigh.



"Thank you Marshal. That leaves us with our biggest concern, the surrounding heathen kingdoms. We need time to build up our levys and consolidate our position before any our neighbors move against us, which can happen at anytime. So I would like to hear all your thoughts."

Bishop Aulay spoke first, " They must be aware that the Holstein troops have left and the rest of our troops scattered across the Kingdom. Why haven't they attacked already?"

Anfòs answered, "Pala is dealing with rebels at the moment, Solanki is attacking Rashtrakuta to claim some territory to the west. Kosala is supporting Rashtrakuta in that war. And Kalvani Chalukya is forcibly annexing Chola. They all just have other issues for the moment. Bu there is no knowing how long that will last."

Luthbert growled, "We need a show of strength. Perhaps an attack against Pala, while they are dealing with internal issues. The Hindu kingdoms didn't help the Orissa during the Crusade, so they shouldn't help another Buddhist King. We should be able to defeat them with just the Knights Templar and the vassal levy currently available."

Bishop Aulay asked" If we attack a second Buddhist Kingdom, Bihar may consider themselves next and join in the war. Can we handle both Bihar and Pala with what we have available?"

Luthbert frowned" Maybe."

Walan weighed in "If we attack a Hindu kingdom, even one of the smaller ones, Kosala or Gwondana, we run the risk of Solanki or Kalvani Chalukya joining in. We should just sit tight and build up our strength as long as possible."

Luthbert shook his head" We need more control on when we mobilize, not just react after an attack."

"So we can't attack any of our neigbors as the Hindu or Buddhist Kingdoms could come to the aid of our target."

Anfòs stood up and walked to the side table holding additional maps. " So we take religion out of the equation." he said as he rifled through the stack of maps.

King Lennon asked " What do you mean?"

Anfòs returned to center table and unrolled the map he had grabbed, " We use this" stabbing his finger down.

"What is this?"



"A map of Orissa's traditional borders. I think I mentioned before that the Daksina Kosala duchy in Rashtrakuta was originally part of the Kingdom of Orissa. We start a war about reclaiming land that should be part of Orissa, not a Holy War against Hindus."

"We go after half the Kingdom of Rashtrakuta, I don't think the other Kingdoms would ignore that." Walan laughed.

Duke Anfòs responded," No, we don't go after the whole Duchy in one shot, we just take one piece.. the best piece, Suvarnapura. It's the wealthiest and most fortified province in the Duchy."



Luthbert said " I like it, Rashtrakuta and her ally Kosala are already at war with Solanki, with their armies tied up to the west. And obviously Solanki won't be coming to their aid "

Anfòs continued, "This plan has additional benefits. By making this a war to press de jure rights we let Rashtrakuta and the rest of the surrounding Kingdoms know that we are aware that the whole Duchy should be part of Orissa, which sets a precedent for future wars for the rest of the Duchy. Also, our other neighbors will see we just want the land that traditionally belongs to Orissa, and since they don't have any of that land they will feel less threatened by us."

There were nods around the table and King Lennon sat back in his chair with a smile on his face, thinking he had chosen his Chancellor well.

"We must strike soon, Rashtrakuta won't last long against Solanki. Begin making preparations. Marshal, I'm going to need you to continue raising and training troops in the Royal desmesne, though I will need your Knights Hospitaller in the field to lead the the rest of the vassal levy. Bishop, I would prefer you continue to focus on converting the native population. Walan, we will need that steel and new weapons sooner rather than later."

With that King Lennon rose and offered his arm to his Queen. " Thank you, gentlemen." The Councillors all rose and bowed as the King escorted his wife from the chamber.
 

Tumultuosus

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Great chapter!
Concerning your strategy, I think you might have a problem with your merchant republic vassal soon: Once Walan dies, the next grand mayor will hate you because of -25*3 "wants control of x" from his dejure duchy. You will be obligated to give him the vassalage, and will lose many potential troops comming from those vassals.
Hoping you expand to another 3 counties befoe this happens ;)
 

TheAnguishedOne

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You're lucky with so many nearby threats being tied up in their own problems. Smart trying to restore Orissa's natural borders before expanding with Holy Wars. You definitely need to be cautious for now.