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timetogetaway

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Introduction:
Gofraidh Mearanach Crovan





The Annals of Ulster and the Chronicles of the Western Isles both speak of a man named either Gofraidh mac meic Arailt or Gorfraid Meranech depending on the source. His name has thus far eluded history, but during early 1066 he forced his way onto Albain political scene when he attempted and failed to capture Dublin and the Isle of Mann. The rest of the year he spent brooding over his loss at his newly constructed Hill Fort on the Isle of Lewis, though come the end of the year he was already spurring his plans into action.

Gofraidh was a man of Gaelic-Norse descent, being either the son or nephew of the King Imar Arailt, also known as Ivar Haraldsson, or the son of Harald the Black of Iceland. Both records describe him as a large man with handsome features, a head of brownish-black hair, and prominent, wide jaw. While both of his possible ancestors were Vikings in all sense of the word, Gofraidh would prove himself to be more inclined to tactical diplomatic victories interspersed with combat. Although not a commander of men at war, his sharp mind and amiable nature served to vault him from obscurity to becoming a regional power over the course of his short reign.

 
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timetogetaway

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Book One:
Gofraidh Mearanach Crovan the Unfortunate, Gofraidh Mearanach Crovan the Cruel

Chapter 1:
Claims




Duke Gofraidh’s early reign would see a series of diplomatic victories which brought him closer to his goal: the Isle of Mann. Early in the year 1067 the duke was one of the many rulers who donated large sums of gold to help refurbish Rome at the behest of Pope Anslem, or Pope Gregory VII as his papal name. Christendom was seeing a great resurgence of its power; under Garcia Jimenez- the last living heir of Ferdinand I of Leon- the Christian northern Iberian Peninsula held back the swarm of Moslem emirs and sheiks to the south, in the far east the Principality of Novgorod was beginning its expansion which would later encompass most of northern Russia, and the death of the Seljuk Sultan Alp Arslan at the hands of a very lucky Byzantine soldier gave the ever-crumbling Byzantine Empire a few years of peace to consolidate itself before attacks could resume. For Gofraidh’s, however, these victories in distant lands only seemed to be interesting tales at best and his own triumph came in the form of the many indulgences the pope promised him.

The rest of that year passed with only two major events occurring. The first being- eventually proving to be a fruitless, though none the less diplomatically savvy maneuver- the marriage of Gofraidh’s sister, Helga Croven, to Paul Thorfinnson, the Duke of Orkney. All across Europe marriage between nobles was always done for the eventual success of one political scheme and it is without a doubt that the duke had planned to see the marriage of his sister to the vaguely prominent Norwegian vassal as some sort of means to an end, but what this was we will never know because Helga quickly disappears from any records beyond the year 1070.

His second and more worthwhile endeavor came in the form of a tattered piece of parchment he and his court claimed to give him dominion over the wealthy city of Dublin and all of its surrounding farmland. Whether or not Gofraidh’s claim was legitimate many historians have debated over for centuries, some pointing to his possible ancestry to Ivar Haraldsson as indication of his rightful claim, while others make note of the dubious nature of the duke and his court.

Beginning in 1068 any records concerning Gofraidh begin to relate his constantly sickly nature. According to some he was plagued with gout, others point to a perpetual consumption, and some even go so far to call it a malady sent down by the heavens to punish him for his crimes. However these later claims were born much later than the rest and likely propaganda against the duke shortly after his botched assassination attempt of one of his vassals.

Gofraidh likely spent the rest of that year dealing with the worst of the illness while juggling his realm. His next move came in the following year, 1069, when he named himself the Duke of Galloway and soon after forged an alliance with Svend Estridson Knytling, the King of Denmark, and the alliance becoming known as the first Treaty of Isles. In the Treaty of Isles the two rulers promised to aid one another should any significant third party attack either of the two. This effectively deterred any attacks from the then ambitious King William the Conqueror of England.

As one of the more lucrative duchies, only behind the Duchy of Leinster and the Duchy of Lothian- both of which would later be absorbed into the Kingdom of England and the Kingdom of Scotland respectively- the duke feared that the English King would see the Hebrides as the perfect way to expand their powerbase and, more importantly, gain an effective upper hand against Scotland and France in terms of manpower.

Gofraidh’s attempt to establish peace and deter outside forces from attacking his duchy proved successful and for the remainder of his reign safety from foreign lords would become status quo. However, this did little to protect the duke’s demesne from him.



 
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timetogetaway

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So there is my next foray into AAR-land! My last AAR is on Hiatus for now because the save-file is at home (and I am about 7 hours away from home...). I may restart it later, but for now I am enjoying how things are turning out for this game as the Duchy of the Western Isles.

As for concerns.... I am a bit worried about the dates, they do not seem too clear, but I'll wait for more response before acting on that. Next would be this will be my picture-less AAR, save for spiffy maps. Lastly would be the font. No idea if it shows up on your computers, but it looks damn awesome on mine.
 

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I dig it. I dig it because your updates are digestable rather than huge, and I like it because your font is attractive and easy to read, and I like the first letter of the paragraph being bigger than the other letters, and I like that it has a Crovan and a Knýtling in it.

Plus that island is awesome. I always forget it when I am uniting stuff in that area and find myself leading frustrated and frustrating crusades against it.
 

timetogetaway

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Book One:
Gofraidh Mearanach Crovan the Unfortunate, Gofraidh Mearanach Crovan the Cruel

Chapter 1:
Claims



Always a sour man and more so after his perpetual illness developed, the duke is now recognized to not have been ‘A Man of the People.’ The rhetoric of his court was that of a collection of self-serving nobles who squandered the peasant’s work on lavish feasts and pageants. While this was the common behaviour of most rulers during Gofraidh’s time, the duke took it to an extreme.

Soon after Gofraidh found that his wife Ragnhild Maria Haraldsdottier Yngling was pregnant with his first child the elated duke threw a feast which lasted from late May to early June. Gofraidh stopped at no expense to celebrate the announcement; according to the Chronicles of the Western Isles “at each of the five meals a day there were seventeen courses, each bringing foods so exotic that few- and even the duke himself- had never heard of. In between the great feast the duke held all manner of games to entertain the gentler guests, lead a great many hunts to appease the war-some guests, and brought three troupes of actors for the rest to delight in.” The court’s surviving records claim that all the expenses totalled up to nearly 300 bezants.

After the festivities died down and the court demanded to know how the duke was going to pay off the astounding debt he made his answer clear and forthright: The People. Duke Gofraidh subsequently raised the taxes on those of common blood to an unprecedented level, causing strong feeling of contempt to surge through the populous, but bringing in the coin necessary to pay off the duchy’s debt.

Within only a week the peasantry lead by a few outraged burghers clamoured for the duke to repeal his harsh tax. When the duke refused and instead responded by arresting the leaders of the group the many members who had not been cowed responded in a revolt. Originally concentrated in the immediate township near to the hill fort in which Duke Gofraidh resided, word quickly spread of the brazen act of the hundred-some peasants and burghers who refused to put up with this tyrannical treatment and the revolt soon found entire hamlets and towns lending support. Thus the Western Isles Rebellion of 1070-1080 began.

Many contemporary historians find this the defining point in Duke Gofraidh’s short reign. For the remainder of the year 1070 the duke staunchly refused any attempts by the rebels to parlay and come to peaceful resolution, even going so far as to executing any of their messengers he received during the latter half of the year. His outrage was clear and his actions were those of a man who felt betrayed by his people. From this point on he became slowly insular and rarely took happiness in the company of others.

It is said that not even the birth of his son Arne, later known as Arne the Conqueror, did the irritable and melancholy duke break a smile. Instead he began to relentlessly work on the furthering of his expansion of his territory, perhaps to present the duchy as a strong force and not a realm fighting against itself, or perhaps he simply sought to appease his courtiers who were suddenly poorer as a result of the rebellion. Whatever reason he actually chose hardly mattered, but the ensuing results did.
 

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Revolts are never good. But their effects in ck are not that harsh.
 
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That's looking nice. To my surprise, I've even managed to keep a straight face while reading about a Crovan's exploits. I am going to follow.

Btw, I like it that you keep your updates short. If a text on-screen isn't broken up by pictures I do always feel a bit overwhelmed by the massive blocks of text. Your AAR goes easy on my eyes - which I like. :)
 

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NIce work, you have another subscriber.
 

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Book One:
Gofraidh Mearanach Crovan the Unfortunate, Gofraidh Mearanach Crovan the Cruel

Chapter 1:
Claims




The latter half of 1071 became a busy time for not only Duke Gofraidh, but for the clergy as well. Pope Anslem, known as Gregory VII, died and the next pope became Bishop Hildebrand, who took on the name Victor III. With the passing of the pope came a resurgence of interest in bringing Christianity to the pagan lands in the Russian steppes and Scandinavia; the ruler who spearheaded this was the duke’s ally, King Svend Estridson Knytling of Denmark. Beginning in September the Danish king called an unofficial crusade- choosing not to wait for the spiritual or financial blessings of the Papacy- on all the pagan nations in Scandinavia and Russia. For a time Denmark, Norway, and Sweden made little efforts to mobilise any troops, but in late September King Svend of Denmark warred with the tribes of Angermanland and called upon Gofraidh to support his efforts.

At the time the Gofraidh was still lamenting of what he perceived to be the people betraying him and he was loathsome to move against them save for the execution of a few dissident noblemen and women. When King Svend’s missive reached the duke he likely took the summons as a chance to divert his realm’s attention from the troubles within itself, explaining his subsequent extensile funding of the king’s armies. His courtiers, of course, took this to be a sign of the duke slowly losing his mind and were unhappy with their liege’s course of action. None the less the duke hired nearly 3,000 Saxon mercenaries and sent them across the North Sea to the elated Danish King.

While his financial minded subjects were in an uproar over this situation, to the south the Ui Imair clan- who held the counties of Galloway and Carrick- were amassing their power. In late November of 1071 the Count of Tir Eoghain, an Irish county, died and left his lands to his son, Count Fingal of Galloway. Thrust in a new position of prominence, Fingal was virtually the most important vassal in all of the realm- possibly even more powerful than the duke. His lands allowed him access to limited trade with the rich city of Dublin and control of the waters between Northern Ireland and Galloway, which would shortly make him very wealthy and soon after than coveted by many unsatisfied subjects within the duchy as the next Duke of the Western Isles.

Though it is difficult to know if this is what the Count had wished for himself and his sons, the fact of the matter is that the Count later found himself becoming a rival to his lord and target of many malicious actions, but at the time Gofraidh’s mind was far from his treacherous subjects and on the victories of the first Northern Crusade.

By the late spring of 1072 Finland was split in half between Sweden and Norway, both kings signing the Treaty of Finnish Peace which was their attempt to prevent wars between future monarchs by clearly defining which lands belonged to either kingdom. Denmark held a smattering of land across the Baltic Sea, though their gains were significantly smaller to that of Norway and Sweden. Amidst all of this was the delighted Duke Gofraidh who had gained nothing save for the gratitude of the Scandinavian monarchs and the contempt of his subjects. Able to ignore his growing domestic troubles by spending much of his time abroad in the court of Denmark a year passed and the duchy saw little change save for the burning of the homes of the prominent money lenders on the Western Isles. In 1073 Gofraidh’s first daughter, Ingrid, was born in the Danish court and the remainder of the year saw few events of note.

Finally at the behest of his council and wife Duke Gofraidh returned to his dreary realm in late January of 1074, having spent nearly two years away from his duties. Gofraidh likely returned expecting to be confronted with his troublesome people, but fate would see him look once again across the seas of Northern Europe.


 

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@ Teep- Thank you for the support!

@ The_Guiscard- Well, I had overlooked the Crovan Clan AAR till I started The Mann on the Island, but after reading it.... Yeah, I can see that my Crovans are.... different. As for the text size I like this format A LOT. It allows me to squeeze out an update in about 30 minutes to an hour, also allows me to pump them out in bulk if I so choose. Plus, without pictures (with the exception of world updates/essays) it takes a lot less time to make an update! (And a lot less stressful too)

@ Hardraade- Thank you for the support!

@ Enewald- Yeah, revolts in CK are rather unassuming. I play it up a lot in the actual AAR, though, as you will see...

@ Phargle- Jerk duke indeed! Rather selfish bugger too. Though I believe his son is -way- worse (yet more successful)
 

Enewald

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Yes, a lot of tariffs gained with controlling the trade of Ireland.
The richest isle smaller than England nearest to the isle of Mann.
 

timetogetaway

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Book One:
Gofraidh Mearanach Crovan the Unfortunate, Gofraidh Mearanach Crovan the Cruel

Chapter 1:
Claims



The onset of 1074 seemed to hold few prospects for Duke Gofraidh. Immediately when he returned it was said he was set upon by a mob of outraged peasants, nobles, clergymen, and burghers. According to his wife’s diary their travel through the countryside had to be conducted exclusively at night so as to avoid any further attacks and their welcome at Gofraidh’s ill-maintained hill fortress was cold at best. Further examining the Duchess’s diary reveals that Gofraidh responded in kind, becoming just as withdrawn and cool to anyone outside his family. Within a month, however, a call came from the distant isles which lay to the north: Iceland and Faereyar.

Previous success in repressing the pagans in Scandinavia and Northern Russia had created a large population of disgruntled and displaced tribes; most of whom were militant. Though many decided to suffer Christian rule and lived under their new lieges, even more took to longboats and dragonships and became clans of fearsome raiders who slowly made their way west in small bands. From Scandinavia they set on themselves on Scotland and by mid 1073 the Norwegian Duchy of Orkney and the small Kingdom of Scotland. Eventually, with assistance from his monarch, the Duke of Orkney was able to fend off the raiders, but the King of Scotland faired far worse.

At the time Scotland still was a small regional power- in fact the surrounding Duchies of Lothian and Galloway were more powerful than the Scottish ‘Kings’- and consisted of only the Duchy of Albany, which provided not nearly enough seafaring warriors to fight the Scandinavian raiders. With the help of Lothian- bought with empty promises of gold which would later lead to the War of Three Dukes in 1077- the raiders were fought off. Not content with only plunder, the raiders banded under a man known as Halsten Ingeson of Aland who lead them north to the unaware Islands just north of the Western Isles. Oblivious to the troubles in Alba the Island-County of Faereyar fell to Halsten’s horde and soon thereafter Iceland as well.

Early in February of 1074 the former Count of Faereyar arrived at Gofraidh’s court, begging the duke to foster his two sons and daughter and to reclaim Faereyar. Gofriadh- who according to the Chronicles of the Western Isles just passed a very unfavourable trade edict which attracted even more moneylenders to his realm- gladly accepted the ex-count’s request and only asked of him to be his vassal once the task was completed, to which the ex-count readily complied. Unable to suffer his sullen court any longer Duke Gofraidh declared war on the re-formed Chiefdom of Aland within a week.


End of Chapter 1​
 
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timetogetaway

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@ Hardraade- They have a right to be angry! Guess what his three prominent traits are :S I find my gold in the negatives most of the time.

@ Enewald- If only more of that money made its way to the Duchy.... But it will soon!

@ Phargle- I wanted to try to capture the kind of ruler who spoke French even though his subjects were Saxons/Normans/English. Though I -believe- one of his descendants is even worse.
 

unmerged(61356)

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Imagine a man of his station being accosted by the common citizenry. Simply scandalous! Given the mood at home I can understand the Duke's quick departure. However, the constant fighting will only serve to empty the treasury and thereby cause more bad feelings amongst the peasantry. It's a never ending cycle! ;)
 

timetogetaway

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Book One:
Gofraidh Mearanach Crovan the Unfortunate, Gofraidh Mearanach Crovan the Cruel

Chapter 2:
Conquest and Corruption



Immediately Duke Gofraidh began to gather his personal army, however his efforts were halted by his outraged courtiers backed by the enraged peasants. Gofraidh’s extensive sponsorship of the Northern Crusade had already dragged the treasury to dangerous depths and it was only kept partially full through staggeringly high taxes; another war only presented Gofraidh’s subjects with more debt. His council demanded that the impetuous duke remain in his realm to see to his duties and they backed their demands with the threat to support the rebellious lower classes. Now himself outraged he threatened each and every one of them with execution should they carry through with their threats, but he must have known that he had few resources to commit himself to turning against the nobility because on the 19th of February he complied with their demands and ordered the few soldiers who had gathered to return to their fields.

For the next two weeks the duke was said to have sulked about his fortress, paying little mind to the matters he had promised to settle. His wife, Ragnhild Maria, recorded in her diary that he did not take meals with the rest of his household, sent away a Scottish diplomat who was supposedly present to coax the duke out of money in exchange for an alliance, and refused to leave his study save for to attend mass on Sundays. In fact we now know that Gofraidh was busying himself undermining the efforts of his advisors.

Two missives went out to the duke’s vassals, the ageing Count Fingal of Galloway and Tir Eoghain and his son Count Mac Cogail of Carrick. While the details of the messages are unknown it likely called for the two counts to summon their own armies to take up war against the pagan host and promised the liberator dominion over the island. The ensuing result was the mobilisation of a total of 1,100 men on the 5th of March. From here the details for the ensuing war become unclear, largely due to the lack of proper texts mentioning the Ui Imair clan due to Gofraidh’s son, Arne, efforts to strike the clan from history.

According to the Chronicles of the Western Isles Gofraidh stole from the Western Isles for the latter part of the year, entrusting his realm to his wife and chancellor so that he could lead the Gaelic force to victory against the pagans. The Annals of Ulster state that Count Fingal fell ill during the voyage and died and that his son subsequently lead the 1,100 soldiers to defeat Halsten’s force of 500 raiders. However Raghild Maria’s own diary states that the duke remained shackled to his realm, ever morose till he lead his personal retinue against the very 500 raiders which Mac Cogail supposedly defeated. As the only surviving text mentioning the Ui Imair clan the Annals of Ulster have remained the mainstay source for historians due to its distance from the corruption of the Crovan court, but whether or not if Mac Cogail did lead his forces to victory is largely irrelevant; on the 12th of April the next year, 1075, Faereyar fell to Count Mac Cogail.

Yet Mac Cogail’s fortune would be short lived. On the 28th of the very month he captured Faereyar the count mysterious died, leaving his entire realm in the hands of an elated Duke Gofraidh.


 
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timetogetaway

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@ Hardraade- Yeah, it gets much worse for the duke in that department!


Also I blame my crappy ink for smudging so bad that I could not read the notes detailing the Battle of Faereyar, so I am not too sure what -did- happen either. Also, also I feel like I am adding these updates way too sporadically and that I should work on my research paper...