- Jan 24, 2012
Chapter 5 B : Rise of a Tyrant - Rivers of Blood (1451-1456)
Sovereign Albrecht I von Hohenzollern, since 22 May 1431
Sovereign Albrecht I von Hohenzollern, since 22 May 1431
Date - May 1456
From : Ulrich van Henegouwen, 'Le Journal de Genève' Correspondence Office
To : Francisco Jiménez, Adjutant to the Convention at Geneva on the Rights of Men
RE : The case to indict Tyrant Albrecht von Hohenzollern of Holland
My noble Inquisitor,
Please find enclosed details of correspondence between the Hollander 'Promised Land' Office of the Viceroy in Nieuw-Amsterdam (City of Vihara) and the Chancellory of Holland in Amsterdam.
This information was intercepted and leaked to us by a source which has interests in the prosecution of the Tyrant Albrecht von Hohenzollern for his crimes against God and man. I trust that you will find the information contained herein to be of use in your ongoing investigations.
Your humble servant,
Ulrich van Henegouwen
Office of the Viceroy
Date : December 1455
So I see you've brought about this business about having to writing some kind of report to you telling you who the hell I am and what my business is in kicking off this little border dispute in your 'Promised Land'. Not familiar with your new viceroy, are you? Where do you think that weekly bottle of Pulteney malt on your desk comes from? You'd think some high and mighty bureaucrat back in Amsterdam would know - like yourself, or better yet, why not ask your Lord Albrecht about it?
Since getting anything sent from here back to Holland takes the better part of the year, I thought I'd just go ahead and answer your questions for you in length, so you don't have to worry your wee head about it. We've got everything under control down here. Think of it as a favour ... as in, you owe me one. Maybe a government or court position back in Europe or something. It's bloody sweltering over here, and I thought midges were bad - the giant mozzies here are hell itself!
My name's Philip of Wick - or, as you Hollander people like to call it, 'Van Wick'. Merchant adventurer by trade, and as Scottish as an Orcadian - which is to say, not very. I can't get anywhere in business in my homeland thanks to having a pansy name like 'Philip' instead of something suitable like Angus or Alasdair or ruddy great Archibald (St) Andrews, so when I heard Lord Albrecht of Holland was sending out invitations for people of an adventuring persuasion willing to take on some dirty business, I jumped at the chance.
Of course, I didn't exactly want to get drafted into some conscript army and made to contract nasty diseases and go spread them to unsuspecting natives in a foreign land - so I made a little withdrawal from the bank of mom and pop and sent it along to Lord Albrecht's treasurer with my name card and a bottle of Scotch. Next thing I knew, there I was on a ship from Amsterdam, told to take control of the expeditionary force in the 'Promised Land' alongside this other man who had this whiff of cheese about him. He either had the worst BO in the world, or he really liked cheese, both not exactly the type of people you want as your bedfellow. I wouldn't be surprised if you were more familiar with him - Gerardus Gouda was his name, and he's a bit more of a soldier than I could ever be, even after a case of malt's worth of convincing.
So after a bit of butting heads we got to talking, and he told me that Albrecht picked him for the job after the recommendation of his older brother Karel, a patrician administrator in one of your government offices in Amsterdam. Also, his dislike of this 'curry', a common dish in the 'Promised Land', had something to do with it. Seems like the last guy the lord hired was a bit too fond of it; as a result, he went kind of soft with the natives after they offered him a bowl of the stuff. Anyway, we had instructions from the lord's Court Chaplain to make contact with some sympathetic elements in the native-held land of Vihara who had promised to help turn over their capital city to us. And by 'make contact', he meant to put everyone who didn't support Holland's destiny to the sword.
It took us half a year to actually reach the 'Promised Land', but when we did get there things seemed kind of iffy - our position was weak with no way to acquire the metal to equip and reinforce our Men at Arms except through shipments from Europe. We could have hired some of the local soldiers, and their horseback archery skills were indeed quite lethal compared to our rather straightforward raider cavalry, but the cultural and language difference would have made it difficult for them to integrate into the formations of our existing troops.
Worst of all, we found that the overlarge native kingdom of Bisnagar had sought to extend its overlordship and challenge ours by proclaiming a guarantee over all nations bordering its territory, as well as attempting to secure alliances with several neighbouring states. Perhaps the King of Bisnagar's arrogance was his downfall, for we soon received word of troop movements to our west.
First things first, of course. War was declared on the morrow with our target nation of Vihara. The defenders were caught out by the suddenness of our attack - it was clear they had not got wind of the conspiracy to surrender their capital to our forces, or they would have made better preparations. Foolishly, Vihara's associates agreed to join the war effort against us, the distant kingdom of Rajasthan taking the role of war leader and marshalling allied forces in Odisha and Nepal against us, despite their ongoing internecine conflict against Bisnagar. This was rather convenient, as when General Gouda laid siege to the market capital of Vihara he was quick to declare their merchants as enemy combatants, and cut them down so we could appropriate their goods for our war effort.
As for the defending forces of Vihara itself, their King abandoned their assault on Bisnagar's territory in the face of overwhelming force and led the remains of their force back to their homeland to beat off our assault. A border post was sieged by their forces and almost starved into submission - but despite encountering severe logistical difficulties the bulk of our army managed to catch up to them and relieve our forces. Although outnumbered and short on supplies, we remembered Lord Albrecht's military doctrine of heedless pursuit - to elaborate, if you chase them and cut them down to the last man, all their supplies are yours, so why hold back for petty concerns like feeding your own army?
It took approximately half a year more, but their defences could not last forever. The sieges were won, and the nation of Vihara capitulated with all of their territory turned over to us. As expected, the other participants in the war against us posed no threat at all - the capitals of Odisha and Nepal were also occupied by our forces. However, Odisha still mainted a substantial force on its western front, sieging the territory of Bisnagar.
When our military intelligence observed the Odisha forces returning to their homeland to repulse us, I sensed an opportunity - as we held the family of their King hostage, we demanded the payment of a substantial indemnity in return for a ceasefire, along with the threat that their palace would be burned to the ground if they refused. Our threat was successful, and Odisha bowed out of the war with us and returned to concentrating their efforts against Bisnagar - which no doubt ended with the utter annihilation of their army. Lastly, there was still the matter of Rajasthan, the nation which was purportedly leading the alliance against us, but which our spies had reported was instead being overrun by the forces of Bisnagar. It took but a single messenger to the King of Rajasthan to offer unconditional peace, and the Fourth War of Hollander Destiny had been concluded in our favour.
Now, onto the matter of the 'viceroyalty', and our little ... 'dispute' with the Kingdom of Bisnagar. As you might be aware we had managed to seize control of the capital city of Vihara, along with its centre of trade, with the aid of several conspirators. For having 'liberated' the city, we were awarded the honour of the use of the previous King's palace, which General Gouda and I established as the new headquarters for our operations in the region.
As per Lord Albrecht's orders, we also bestowed upon the city the new name of New Amsterdam, or 'Nieuw-Amsterdam' in your native language. Lord Albrecht still has not replied to us as to what he would like to name the region itself, which now unquestionably answers to our will. Did he want to call it 'Albert Land'? Or 'County Albert'? What about 'Nova Hollandia'? Do let me know more on this matter on your next correspondence.
And, upon the establishment of a new territory of the glorious nation of Holland, it is only right and proper that such a territory has a leader, or, shall we say, a domestic administrator. Of good European, Christian stock, no less. Naturally, I volunteered for the duty, Gerardus being of a more martial persuasion, really nothing at all like his brother. Also, the natives really didn't want the palace smelling of cheese, anyway - the sort that they prefer tends to be a little more mild in flavour. I'm certain Lord Albrecht would not be too displeased with me for taking the initiative over this matter - in fact, I think he ought to be most grateful that I've taken this responsibility upon myself. May I please just apologise for, you know, not having sent word to our lord sooner to inform him of this development. But I'm sure it doesn't matter.
Gerardus takes on the Natives of the Promised Land - who will win?
"Cheese is not a weapon, it is food!"
I understand that you're somewhat concerned about our declaration of a state of war between the domains of Holland and the native Kingdom of Bisnagar - no doubt their total armed force is larger than our entire standing army combined with those of our allies in the theatre. However, I, as Viceroy, felt that the opportunity on the ground was too good to pass up, and the need for a decisive war to contain the spread of Bisnagari influence was pressing.
Bisnagar had been at war with their neighbouring kingdoms Rajasthan and Odisha for several years, and up until a short time ago the battle still seemed to be a back-and-forth affair. We hoped that our successful annexation of Vihara would not have affected the balance between the two sides - apart from the elimination of the Vihari forces, of course. However, developments in the later part of last year (1454) beyond our control led to Bisnagar gaining the upper hand. The first was the routing of the Odisha forces - it seemed that Rajasthan had only been able to run rampant because Bisnagar had concentrated on eliminating the enemy who was closer to them. After Odisha was decisively defeated and several of their territories were annexed, Bisnagar concentrated its forces on a northward push into Rajasthani territory and it seems they were eventually able to disperse and eliminate the primary Rajasthani force.
Gerardus and I agreed that, should Bisnagar be allowed to continue unmolested, it would overrun Rajasthan and further enlarge its domains. We also noted the likelihood that Bisnagar would be war weary and depleted of manpower after such a long conflict. The last straw came at the beginning of this year, when Bisnagar proclaimed itself supreme overlord and defender of all those of its faith, reserving for itself the right to intervene in any conflict involving those of its religion - meaning they would enter any war we started with other local lords, no matter how weak. You have to agree with me that it was the right thing to respond to this provocative proclamation by declaring a War of Containment of Bisnagari Influence.
No doubt, your concern about the leader of Bisnagar being somewhat upset about our revocation of our two-way military access agreement was right, and their king, some bloke by the name of Sangama, decided to immediately reroute his forces to engage our army. However, it seems our apparent relative 'weakness' contributed to arrogance on the part of the Bisnagari forces, as their king felt that it would be a good idea to lead but a third of his forces against the combined military of the 'Promised Land' and her allies. General Gouda dealt him a stinging defeat that, in one blow, halved the advantage he had over us.
Damn, that guy has 5 shock! No wonder he was so confident.
Also, did I mention that their cavalry are better than mine?
Reeling from their defeat, the King of Bisnagar took some time to reassign some of his forces currently besieging Rajasthan to attempt to engage us. However, our suspicions regarding the internal weakness of Bisnagar were proven right - having already enlisted every available man for their war effort, they were unable to train any more troops, nor could they fund any mercenary replacements due to having spent all of their resources issuing that ostentatious proclamation which set off our war. We were able to concentrate the bulk of our forces on the Bisnagari-Rajasthani front, where the rest of the Bisnagari armed forces were located, and mostly neglect the southern heartland, leaving it to our less well-equipped allies.
Interesting developments during the course of the war contributed to the success of our war effort - apparently, some bright spark decided that it would be a good idea for us to sail our ships into enemy harbours and attempt to interfere with their shipping activity. Not only did this impede the movement of their navy - not that they were actually doing anything with it, or had very much of it in the first place - but it also disrupted their trade and the livelihood of their civilian population. We permitted our sailors to board all ships regardless of affiliation, and issued a writ of plunder against ports of the nation of Bisnagar; no doubt there were some unsavoury activities committed but I am certain you would agree that the net result - increased war-wearines and domestic unrest - significantly dented Bisnagar's war capacity.
Our naval dominance paid dividends for our besieging forces on land, as enemy morale began to plummet with their supplies cut off, and their armies were easily routed. General Gouda offered the cornered armies a simple choice - the payment of ten guilders' ransom per man, or death. It could hardly have been our fault if they lacked sufficient funds to pay the ransom ... or if they did not actually understand our surrender terms in the slightest.
As of the time that I write this letter in my office in New Amsterdam, such is the situation. The enemy's army, from holding an overwhelming advantage over our own, has been almost completely exterminated. Their king, Sangama, commands one last battalion of elite troops somewhere in Rajasthani territory, of a strength less than half our combined forces. It is true that we have been as yet unable to compel him to surrender and accede to our demands of releasing a large proportion of Bisnagari territory as independent states, who would naturally be thankful to us for granting their freedom. However, that is because the southern proportion of the Bisnagar kingdom has yet to actually feel the full force of our repression. Perhaps the threat of having the rivers in their heartland run red with the blood of slaughtered civilians might force them to capitulate.
So you can see, dear Johan, there is really no need to worry. I, as self-appointed Viceroy of the Hollander 'Promised Land', have everything under control here. As long as Lord Albrecht continues to reciprocate my efforts with appropriate rewards - and the continued patronage of Pulteney malt whisky by the government offices of Amsterdam - I can assure you that there will be no problems from this little part of the world.