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    Real Strategy Requires Cunning

aniuby

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Chapter 7 B : Flower of Holland - Going with the Flo (1466-1470)
Sovereign Floris VI von Hohenzollern, since 5 November 1466

"It's about time someone sensible took charge of this country."​

HOL0074B_zpsf3663d62.png

The political situation in Europe at the beginning of the Florian age (Florentine? Florisian? Seriously, what kind of name is Floris?).
In garish paintbucket Red : Holland and her vassals - Brabant, Oldenburg, Münster, Mainz, and Gelre (Total provinces : 14)
In 'totally not a river' Blue : Holland's allies Liege and Cleves (Total provinces : 3)
In 'What the heck is 'Teal'' Teal : Holland's personal unions with Brandenburg and Thuringia (Total provinces : 6)
Other things of note - Austria is the Emperor and has Palatinate in a personal union, Portugal owns Madeira and has Savoy in a personal union.
Poland inherited Lithuania. And the Azores hasn't been discovered. This will be on your test later, so don't forget, kids!


Floris and Wilhelm, the new Sovereigns of Holland, were making their first public appearance since the incident which removed the previous Sovereign Albrecht II, or Albrecht Junior, as he was more widely known. Floris tended to refer to the incident as a "rightful transfer of power", while the slightly more phlegmatic Wilhelm saw it as a "restoration of democracy". Regardless, it was now clear that a sort of co-Sovereignty or duumvirate ruled over the lands of Holland. Floris Gerhard and Wilhelm Karl von Hohenzollern were twins, born on the same day to the same woman.

Their father, blissfully unaware of their birth (getting murdered tends to dull your faculties somewhat), had passed on genes which marked them out unmistakably as his descendants - both were over six feet tall and of a muscular build, though their dark brown hair had been inherited from their prostitute mother. Unlike their father, who remained clean shaven to match his shaved head, both brothers also took great pride in their facial hair, though they wore their styles differently to aid in telling them apart - Floris maintained a full beard and moustache, while Wihelm paid more attention to his moustache and kept only a pencil beard. Both were of a serious nature, competent and not prone to vice or even football, and devout Christians, much to the disappointment of Court Chaplain Jean 'LOL-lard' Why-cliffe.

However, both brothers' personalities and inclinations were also different - Floris was more of a natural leader, with a predilection toward grandiose actions and statements, while Wilhelm fancied himself more of an intellectual, uncomfortable with public displays of emotion, preferring to work in the background. It was thus satisfactory to both that Floris had been appointed Sovereign in name, with Wilhelm named heir in preference to any potential issue.

There had been a certain amount of unhappiness in the wake of Albrecht Jr's removal, not because Hollanders were especially attached to their Sovereigns, a ten-year rule being barely enough to break out of a short reign negative opinion modifier. Instead, what particularly riled the population of Amsterdam, and the libido of young men across the country, was the state-mandated removal of the ubiquitous recruitment posters featuring some pretty blonde girl in a dress, which had adorned streets, pub walls, and the doors of many a teenage cupboard ... and the response when they found out just who the girl in question actually was. Floris and Wilhelm had tried to soothe the public psyche by putting up for auction many of the 'dresses' they had found in the former Sovereign's cases and private quarters, but the damage had been done, resulting in a degree of national instability.

There was also the matter of the numerous unfinished wars Albrecht Jr had left behind upon his removal as Sovereign, supposedly in the name of some civilising mission to spread gender equality or some other wobbly justification. The man in the street in Amsterdam, as long as he paid his taxes, saw little of it - many of these battles were fought by battalions raised in the Promised Land from native conscripts. War raged on against the rebel-torn Kingdom of Odisha, who refused to respect Hollander authority despite its pathetic state, the jungles of Kongo, and the killing fields of Benin. A lack of central direction led to confusion, as it often turned out soldiers and natives alike had no idea who ought to be fighting against whom.


All these wars remained unresolved - the only way was to address each as reports from the battle fronts came into the Sovereign's office in Amsterdam. First arrived the news from the western coast of Africa - as was expected, the natives put up little resistance, contributing to this being the fact that they had no concept of local fortifications at all. Indeed, the lord of the Kongo practically welcomed the Hollanders outright, ordering the more militant traditionalists to take a trip to an adjacent, unpopulated province as the expeditionary troops toured each of his cities. It was therefore hoped that the Christianisation of both heathen lands, and a reminder to the lord of Oyo of the importance of fortifications, would help establish a protectorate that would remain loyal and friendly to Holland's interests.

HOL00760_zps7512ef5d.png

Gonna take some time to do the things we never ha-a-a-ad ...
Notice Kongo's troops standing stock still in the middle of an empty province even though they could theoretically outflank me

Next came the missive from the Promised Land. Governor/Acting Viceroy Jan Sluis had respectfully written to his Sovereign in Amsterdam as to how to proceed regarding the subjugation of the nation of Odisha, bearing in mind the need to eventually conquer their capital as per the instructions spelled out in Holland's Holy Book. Jan had also borne in mind the possibility that an unfortunate incident might have befallen ex-Sovereign Albrecht Jr since last he saw him, and took great pains (read, grovelled like a scum-sucking bootlicker) to appeal to his potential new Sovereign. After assessing the situation, Floris and Wilhelm agreed that Jan was mostly harmless in comparison with the ex-Scotsman who used to hold the position, and wrote to reward him with the position of Viceroy, along with a scheme for the destruction of the nation of Odisha without gaining too much infamy or unnecessary provinces.

HOL00770_zps6f11019c.png

Look at all those rebels! You're looking, right?

HOL00780_zps576573df.png

Boom goes the dynamite! Wait, what's dynamite?

Now all that was left, for the fulfilment of the prophecy, was to wait for the truce with Odisha to expire, before swooping in and capturing their capital, for Holland's glory. To reward the many natives who had graciously assisted with Holland's quest for the Promised Land and to fulfil the ideals of the 'civilising mission' they were promised, Floris arranged for a delicatessen to be set up for them in the provinces of Agra, Awadh, Illahabad, Lucknow, and Panduprastha, under Christian management ... oh, sorry! I mean, a Delhi would be set up for them encompassing those provinces, and Holland would rely on their support to maintain order and civility in the part of the Promised Land they controlled.

With Holland's trade routes and outpost in the Promised Land secured, it was now time for Floris and Wilhelm to turn their attention homeward, to Europe. Lax regulations and a policy of free trade had allowed many of Holland's discoveries to reach other courts, and carried with them the attention of the power-hungry monarchs of Europe. The "Great Powers" of Europe, in order, France, Castille, Austria, England, Portugal, Sweden, and Poland, sought to exploit the discoveries of the weakest of their number, and colonising missions began to proliferate off the coast of Africa. Portugal had seized the island of 'Madeira', the Castillians landed at 'Cabo Verde', while France laid claim to 'Iles Cocorico', so named due to the cries of the birds found there. Or chickens. Or birds that taste like chickens. French people just like chickens.

Spies brought wind to the Sovereigns of Holland that Portugal and Castille, having acquired maps detailing Holland's successful holdings in the Promised Land, had decided to outrageously forge their own claims of some sort of 'quest' of their own, writing into their country's annals obviously fabricated claims of a 'Quest for the New World' of some kind - a blatant imitation, and a mockery of Holland's mighty destiny. Regardless, these countries had cast off their religiously conservative opposition to the visiting of places which are not yet shown on their maps, and sent explorers and conquistadors out to seek new lands. Curiously enough, they decided to head west into the infinite abyss of the ocean - all true Hollanders know that nothing lies there except an infinte expanse of water. Perhaps they'll find something ... their death, most likely.

However, there was one thing - a very conspicuous whited-out spot in the maps all reputable cartographers published, some distance to the west of Portugal. Marshal of the Mint Joost Schönebeck believed that it might have been an error, but when other maps were found to contain a similar blank spot, Sovereigns Floris and Wilhelm realised that something was afoot, and decided to send out a new expedition to uncover the origins of this mysterious spot. It took several months of sailing about aimlessly in the ocean, and the crew's morale was at rock bottom, believing that there was nothing to be found, until one fateful day ...

HOL00790_zpsd18e8b60.png

After almost a year of sailing back and forth ... Seriously? I mean, hey mister explorer, there's like a giant white spot there!
Can't you just sail there and find out what it is? What the hell am I paying your wages for? Oh, that's right, I don't pay you.

An expeditionary force was sent out to seize the deserted island for Holland's glory, not so much because they wanted a pile of rock on the edge of the infinite abyss, but mainly because all of Holland was annoyed that the Great Powers were living off the back of their exploits in discovering the route to the Promised Land. Plus, having an outpost on the edge of the infinite abyss would be pretty useful, wouldn't it? It could be a good destination for tourism, or an excellent place to send inconvenient dictators who attempt to take over countries and start some kind of revolutionary movement to spread misguided ideals across the world. We speak, of course, of people of similar ilk to the usurper, Albrecht Junior. The first colonists landed, beating out rivals from Portugal and Castille, and new land was claimed in the name of Holland and Sovereign Floris.

HOL00800_zps4091701e.png

I didn't actually want to start a colony, but it would be preferable to letting one of the other colonisers get it and having a jumpstart on North America.
This means I need to grab another Bengali province - thankfully there are at least two more still unclaimed. Also I was impatient to use that name.

Boxing Day, December 1470. Light snow was falling over Amsterdam, and a chill wind was blowing - yet, as in so many other places where there was money to be made, business continued as usual. In the bustling market square, merchants and traders negotiated with customers and travellers from around the region - of particular interest was a type of flower imported from Turkish lands, a 'tulip', which had gained the favour of Sovereign Floris VI. The bright hue of the flower struck a stunning contrast with the metallic reflection from the general's armour he was fond of wearing, and several aspiring young patricians sought to adorn themselves similarly to gain their lord's favour.

Floris and Wilhelm had just been to the (rather poorly-attended) St Stephen's Day mass at the local chapel and were heading back to the Sovereign's mansion to return to dealing with matters of state - for a Sovereign, there can be no such thing as a true day of rest. Seeing the common folk of Amsterdam going about their lives, free from worries and cares, Floris could not restrain himself, battle-hardened by nature as a result of his experiences in the Promised Land, from making the fateful observation.

"Can these peaceful days truly last, Wilhelm? Can Holland's prosperity truly last forever?"

"Dare I say, brother, that it is our fault, as Sovereigns, that peace has reigned in Holland for as long as it has. People have grown soft, unwary, heedless of the sacrifices their forebears have made, the blood that has been shed ..."

Wilhelm ceased to speak as he gritted his teeth in frustration, such was his unhappiness with the state of affairs - and the fact that he had allowed his emotions regarding the matter to run ahead of his thoughts. It was but a full minute later, almost halfway down the street to the Sovereign's mansion, that he was able to voice his thoughts once again.

"I ... I blame the pretender Albrecht Junior. He destroyed the lives of so many who strived for Holland's glory, and treated his responsibilities as Sovereign as some sort of parlour game. Even though he's locked away now, his poisonous legacy still remains, tormenting and twisting our nation's future."

HOL00810_zps3f8b479d.png

Manly virtues ... heh heh.

"Floris, we sought to persuade the people of Holland of Albrecht Jr's lies by exposing him as a fraud. But now, in some sort of twisted revenge, many of our nation's youths have not only refused to be disillusioned of the pretender's image, but have adopted it for themselves, doing silly things like wearing women's clothes, pracing about in bonnets and bodices and all that. Some idiots are even predicting that this will be standard attire for gentlemen in the future."

"That is just dandy," Floris observed, "I hate to say this, but perhaps a spell in the colonies would help to disabuse them of the notion that life is all a bed of roses. We could use more settlers, in any case - based on the most recent reports from our overseas holdings, any who aim toward the position of fishmonger would be well in demand."

HOL00830_zps5bab6025.png

The report from Holland's overseas holdings. Also, Gondwana declared war on Vijayanagar and called us in.
This brought our vassals in as well, but we didn't want any territory so we accepted white peace. Therein lies the magic -
when vassals are strong enough to occupy enough territory on their own, they can enforce peace deals and take the infamy for new acquisitions

"Well, I suppose that leads us to the next problem. Our ongoing colonisation efforts demanding a more complex naval logistics program, combined with the somewhat decadent nature of our nation's youth, have led to a shortage of able-bodied men for our armed forces. Arsenals are being deserted, and judging by the present state of our nation's 'prosperity', no one is in a hurry to volunteer themselves to man them."

"Such is life, Wilhelm. You may win the war, but lose the peace. And the soldier in me knows that this peace, which brings wealth and stability but not security to Holland, could well lead to our downfall if a larger power takes advantage of our decadence to make a move."

HOL00820_zps6c0a2c20.png

Peace! What is it good for? Absolutely no ... well, quite a lot of things actually.

"So, Floris. Let us approach this issue head-on. What is to be done? These are burning questions of our movements, or lack thereof."

Floris and Wilhelm were now at the gates of the Sovereign's mansion, where the guards at the gate tipped their helmets to welcome them. Everything within was covered with a light dusting of snow, indicating no one had been through the grounds since the brothers had left earlier that morning. This picture of serene calmness could be compared to Holland's peaceful situation - and yet, throughout Holland, as in Amsterdam that Boxing Day morning, a chill wind blew ... a harbinger of the ill fate that could befall an unprepared nation.

The brothers had doffed their hats and were about to enter the gatehouse when a familiar cry rang out from some distance behind them, followed by the sound of a man dashing towards them. Floris glanced out to see who it was - it was Court Chaplain Jean, hurriedly sprinting down the snow-covered path despite the risk of slipping.

"My liege! Sovereign Floris! Lord Wilhelm ..." Jean panted, between heavy breaths, "I have news!"

"Speak, good sir," said Floris, as he was joined by his brother. "What is it of so much importance that you seek us in such haste?"

"... God's word, sire! God has spoken to us again!"

"... very well, out with it." Wilhelm was visibly unimpressed at the Chaplain's antics - to a certain extent, he was also a little envious, as God had never actually spoken to him. "As long as he doesn't want us to get Bohemia to vote for us again."

"No, sire! This time, it's something we can actually fulfil, for the glory of God and Holland!"

HOL00840_zps4a725beb.png

Aren't they our ally?

That very day, the gears of destiny were set in motion. The wheel of fate was turning once again.

For the next fifty years, or longer, the land of Holland would never once again experience such a period of peace.

More to come! To be continued in the next part, Chapter 7 C : Flower of Holland - Flo'ed at the Bell
 
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DensleyBlair

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I've never heard of a Dutch person called Alexander.

The heir-apparent (and, from 30th April this year, king) of the Netherlands is called Willem-Alexander.

Jean 'LOL-lard' Why-cliffe.

Really? As in Wyclef Jean?

Instead, what particularly riled the population of Amsterdam, and the libido of young men across the country, was the state-mandated removal of the ubiquitous recruitment posters featuring some pretty blonde girl in a dress, which had adorned streets, pub walls, and the doors of many a teenage cupboard[...]

:)

A very entertaining update indeed. Just one request - can you conquer Mysore and rename it 'Eyesore'? It's what I see every time it crops up in one of your screenshots :)
 

aniuby

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Chapter 7 C : Flower of Holland - Flo'ed at the Bell (1471-1474)
Sovereign Floris VI von Hohenzollern, since 5 November 1466

The Great Powers of Europe
1. France
2. Castille 3. Austria 4. England 5. Portugal 6. Sweden 7. Holland 8. Poland


"So, our new mission is to vassalise Liege. That seems simple enough, if ... a bit of a dishonourable way to treat an ally."

Sovereign Floris and his brother, co-Sovereign and acting Chancellor Wilhelm, glanced over the handy map of Europe they held in the war room of the Sovereign's mansion, which Wilhelm meticulously kept updated to reflect the changing power realities of the continent. Marshal of the Mint Joost Schönebeck had been summoned at short notice to act as secretarial assistant and to offer a third opinion - not that he often voiced many opinions at all.

"Have you any thoughts, Joost?" Floris inquired of the slightly older man standing beside him.

"... somehow, that doesn't make sense ..." Joost opined, scratching the back of his head, "... I know! It's a logical fallacy. How can you vassalise your liege? Then he wouldn't be your liege any more, and that would create a paradox! Or perhaps the Chaplain refers to our theoretical liege, the Holy Roman Emperor, due to our status as a member of the Holy Roman Empire. In which case, he could theoretically be vassalised, but considering that his army is four times ours he'd never accept, and ..."

"No, Joost. He obviously means the Archbishopric of Liege. Or Liège, if you want to pedantic about it." Okay, so perhaps there was a reason why nobody ever asked him for an opinion. The man was intelligent, but he had a bit of a circuitous way of thinking, which functioned all right when left to its own devices, but tended to screech to an abrupt halt whenever anything out of the ordinary was demanded of it.

"Well, ahem ..." Floris began, "the peaceful vassalisation of states, by widely-held norms of decorum, often entails a sort of dynastic linkage. However, although Liège has been our faithful ally since its independence from Burgundy over fifty years ago, the theocratic nature of their state means that dynastic relations are impossible."

"It's the damnable nature of nobles and their obsession with blood ties. They wouldn't agree to surrender their independence even if they considered the protection we've offered them over those fifty years from our position of relative strength, deterring larger nations such as France from attacking."

"So this is it then, brother? We declare our alliance to be at an end, ensure that all relevant treaties are cancelled, and demand their subjugation by force. What a pitiful end to fifty years of friendship, and what a pathetic excuse for war."

"Not necessarily that pathetic," Wilhelm countered. "We'll cite their 'rigid adherence to outdated traditions of nobility' as a just cause for war. And ending our alliance would allow us to align ourselves with a more powerful supporter. Floris, you cannot deny that our rising status in the world has led to other nations growing desirious of our support. Holland must adapt!"

"You speak of an alliance with a Great Power?"

"Exactly. Floris, your experiences on the battlefront may have brought home to you the cruel reality of war, but as your brother it is my duty to inform you of the cruel reality of international politics. If Holland is to find its place in the sun, and attain the respected position of a Great Power, we cannot stand by idly in European affairs. There will be those who will seek to challenge us - and there will be those who will be willing to stand with us to meet those challenges. Our duty is to find these allies among the Great Powers."

"So, we shall break our stance of neutrality between the three warring Great Powers to our West." Floris sighed. He could not deny the fact that his brother had a better sense of the wider picture - matters that he could not see when he commanded that one battalion of troops on the field of war.

"It is a simple choice, really. We are presently the most cordial with Castille, but in truth we are merely abiding an enemy - they are barbarians who oppress our Flemish brothers in Antwerp, and the very concept of Iberian holdings in the Low Counties is an ahistorical abomination. England shares our inclination toward naval pursuits, but they would not lift a finger to help us in continental matters where we are weakest. No, there is only one true choice - one who will help us against these other two powers, as well as assist us against the vile machinations of Emperor Austria."

HOL00850_zpsd882ae29.png

"Then let it be done, Wilhelm. However, my second concern is that Liège is allied to the Archbishopric of Cologne, who is also one of the Electors of the Holy Roman Empire - and is supporting our candidacy for the Imperial throne. An act of war against their ally will alienate them utterly."

"Feh. The Emperor's title is merely a fancy imposition of self-obsessed nobles more caught up in promoting their own importance than the prosperity of their citizens," Wilhelm spat derisively. "If you're so inclined to be Emperor, we could just force Cologne to bend to our will as one of our terms of war. But, as you are my brother, I know you would not stoop so low to dredge the Imperial crown from the gutter."

"Indeed, you are right. If the crown is to be ours, then let it be ours through popular acclaim, not through bribery, oppression, or threats. I still have my reservations about the whole matter, but if you are confident the necessary precautions have been taken ..."

"Trust me. All is for Holland's glory."

HOL00860_zps3cca87d2.png

France didn't feel like joining the war so I didn't call them. But it was unexciting, anyway. I was expecting a massive alliance cascade.
Instead, Liège remained war leader. Since I was one of their (former) allies, they didn't have many people to call upon at all.
I took 4 infamy (net 2 infamy after completing the mission) to give Köln to Mainz because I had nothing to do anyway.

The pace of events seemed to quicken after the relatively uneventful War of Liégian Subjugation, as Holland now found itself bound more tightly than ever into the intricacies of European politics. Out of gratitude for the establishment of an alliance, the regency council ruling France during the minority of King Louis XIII de Valois presented Holland with an unusual 'gift', and a sort of apology for not being able to participate in the recent war. This gift was the offer of marriage between the unwed Wilhelm von Hohenzollern and Juliette Braun, the favoured daughter of the Franco-Germanic Sovereign of Nevers, a small border country under the protection of France's sphere of influence.

Wilhelm was disinclined to accept the offer, being a workaholic completely disinterested in pleasures of the flesh, but his brother Floris reminded him of his obligations as a potential future Sovereign of Holland, and suggested that diplomatic marriage really wasn't all that bad after all ("Your wife might end up ruling a country, you know."). Bearing in mind the fate which befell their predecessor, Albrecht I, the bride was invited to travel to Amsterdam shortly after the conclusion of the war with Liège and Cologne, where the wedding was carried out under conditions of maximum security.

As a result of the establishment of the Franco-Holland alliance, the ambassador of France had also seen his status rise from a mere shop-fronter down at his embassy at the harbours of Amsterdam, into an occasional guest at strategy meetings with Sovereigns Floris and Wilhelm. The Ambassador was a ginger-haired chap of mixed parentage by the name of Ross de Bouef, who was affectionately known by French citizens in Amsterdam as "Le Ross Bouef". Somewhat fond of bluster, he took every opportunity to extol France's great wealth and military might, the martial virtues of his monarch, a future warrior king, and how much he hated those evil English, Castillians, and Austrians. Especially the English, for some peculiar reason - he often cited something called the 'Auld Alliance' and 'FREEDOM!!!' to justify this.

FRALou13_zps6a733f56.png

The boy warrior king, Louis XIII de Valois. What do you mean he's 150 years early?

Ross' rambling naturally cheesed off the ambassadors of those particular countries, as well as the Sovereigns of Holland themselves, who didn't like their thoughts being interrupted by incoherent babbling. At times like this, when the ambassador appeared at the gatehouse of the Sovereign's mansion demanding to be let in, Floris and Wilhelm would send a message to the guards, very politely asking him to go away, and retreat to an inner chamber along with their faithful assistant Joost Schönebeck to discuss other matters which were, frankly, not any of France's business at all. The task for the day was sorting through the massive pile of paperwork that came in at the end of each year.

"... my lords, look through these reports ..." Marshal Schönebeck said, as he handed a pile of statements from Holland's overseas office to Sovereign Floris, "... the year 1472 is come and gone, and the instructions you sent Viceroy Jan Sluis in the Promised Land have been acted upon. Holland exists in a state of war with the native kingdom of Rajasthan, who have intervened to prevent the seizure of Cuttack, the capital of Odisha and the final province spoken of in the prophecy..."

"Indeed. We predicted all this five years ago," Wilhelm stated authoritatively. "With the aid of the native vassal states we have established, our dominance is now unquestioned throughout the continent of the Promised Land. It was therefore no gamble at all to concentrate all our attention on European affairs. Once we have taken what we want from Odisha, instruct the Viceroy to take as much as we can from Rajasthan short of annexing territory."

HOL00880_zps0cbe7e38.png

Earliest possible date of Hindustan formation - November 1522, although this is unlikely. This is due to needing to meet a lot of other requirements.
I must not be in the Empire at the time, as well as meeting the cash and stability costs to shift capitals twice and also shift cultures. And I want to inherit my PUs too!
Also note the Deva Bengali province in rebellion on the right edge of the map...

"Perceptive as always, brother. However ..." Floris paused as he fished out one particular statement that seemed out of place, "the Viceroy reports that an additional province has rebelled from the nation of Asham, to the east of our outpost in the Promised Land due to cultural differences. He took upon himself the liberty of seizing the province and adding it to our domains, to help reunite the Bengali speakers under our rule."

"Unexpected. While I must commend the man for showing some initiative, I'm not sure that it's wise to act without further consideration of the greater strategic implications of these border conflicts ..." Wilhelm returned his attention to another set of proclamations he had been browsing.

HOL00900_zpse1cdd2f4.png

Is your name Agrajag or something? I can swear I've killed you before...

"... my lords, there is more news. On the domestic front, matters are starting to ease up as well. Ever since Antwerp and Ghent were formally assimilated as rightful provinces of Holland, our merchants have reported better treatment at centres of trade around the world. A population census conducted in those provinces has revealed the sheer number of Flemish people living under your authority, and ..."

"And...?" Wilhelm grumbled impatiently. He seemed to be agitated by something he had heard or read. "Can you stop using so many ellipses when you speak, Marshal?"

"Eep! Sorry!" yelped the timid man as he nearly dropped the next stack of reports he carried, "I mean ... what I meant to say was, now that we know how many Flemish people live in Holland's borders, the ruling authority there has seen fit to officially outlaw jokes about Flemish people..."

"Oh, right," Wilhelm commented sardonically, rolling his eyes. "It's not like we were all filing up like Flemings to fling foolish fulminations at those phlegmetic people."

"Brother, I think what they mean to say is that Flemish is now an accepted culture in our nation, so it would be quite wrong to make fun of them."

HOL00910_zps08e467f2.png

Now that we've got that straight, let's not flounder on and on about it.

"My lords, it also appears that when our officials were conducting their population census, they came across a strange old hermit. He had a few words for the Sovereign of Holland."

"I hope those words weren't 'Sod off, you tosser!'. So what did he offer to do? Teach us more about the mysterious art of intrigue? Or toss a book into our hands and quietly disappear? Don't tell me he was one of those weird people who likes to play with miniature soldiers?"

"Well, Lord Wilhelm, he's actually a fortification expert. Having sworn his loyalty to Holland, he's offered to either work for us in court to assist with the maintenance of fortifications for as long as he lives, or devote his entire life to reinforcing the stockade at Zeeland to such an extent that it will last until the end of time."

"So he's offering us either a glorifed engineer, or a citadel that can stand forever. That doesn't make sense at all - the man is probably mad. Send him away."

HOL00920_zps21433af0.png

This event doesn't make any damn sense at all! Sod off, you tosser!

"Brother, please keep your temper under control," Floris interrupted as he replaced the letters he was reading. "We are at work on matters of state here."

"I'm sorry, I was all riled up by this pronouncement I've just read!" Wilhelm snapped as he flung one of the papers onto the stack. "Apparently, someone is mocking you, no, us, for apparently leading our troops to victory in only the first war of your rule. They even have the gall to title their proclamation, 'Strong Military Leadership', arguing that this Holland's leadership is far too strong for a country led by a couple of whoresons. The sheer confounded logic of it all simply blows my mind."

HOL00870_zpsaa063317.png

Seriously, this event is the most nonsensical one of all! So ... people are complaining because commoners are too talented and military leadership is too good?
The worst part is that this event is triggered to happen if your country is too stable and has a high military tradition.
I'm just going to press-gang all the bloody nobles into the army and see how well they fight in the trenches.

At that moment, there was a hurried knock on the door. Trusting that the guards he set had done their job of keeping the annoying French ambassador out of the mansion, Wilhelm tossed the rest of the papers back onto the workdesk and headed for the door, opening it to reveal a rather worried looking guardsman.

"My Lord Wilhelm ... a terrible business is going on outside the mansion right now."

"Don't tell me that de Boeuf fellow is trying to force his way in again." Wilhelm was visibly unimpressed, as was his approach to most matters not of an outright mind-shattering logically fallacious manner. "Tell him we don't want any cheese - or that weird sausage thing made from the minced organs of sheep."

"Well, apart from the latter, he said that he had an important message from the court of France for you - and you specifically - and he wanted to deliver it in person. We were trying to get him to simply leave the message at the gatehouse, when it so happened that the Austrian ambassador came up to us, carrying a brief to be delivered to Lord Floris. Naturally their eyes met, and ..."

"They kissed, did they? French people do that kind of thing all the time."

"Heck no! They were shooting daggers at each other! Well, metaphorically speaking, of course. But then the French ambassador tore out a dirk that he wore at his waist, the Austrian pulled out a broadsword, Ross took out a bloody great claymore, and I'm not exactly sure where the Austrian man kept the halberd, but anyway they're having a go at each other outside the gatehouse, sire, and they won't break it up!"

"... Flippin' ..."

Wilhem turned back to face his brother and Marshal Schönebeck and gave them a look of utmost exasperation, of disgust at the crazy mixed-up nature of great power politics on this continent, and all the people who lived in it.

"I'm going to sort this out. I think both of you should stay in here, where the world is much less stupid."

More to come! To be continued in the last part, Chapter 7 D : Flower of Holland - Blood on the Dance Flo
 

aniuby

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The heir-apparent (and, from 30th April this year, king) of the Netherlands is called Willem-Alexander.

Well, that shows how much I know about the Holland in real life. I did hear about the abdication, though, and I do think it's a bit of a pity, though then again monarchy doesn't have to be a job for life.

Really? As in Wyclef Jean?

Not the real one, though you might notice that the Court Chaplain tends to style himself after famous 'heretics' in history. Also, an awful lot of 'heretics' are named Jean/John/Jan, for some reason.

Just one request - can you conquer Mysore and rename it 'Eyesore'? It's what I see every time it crops up in one of your screenshots :)

I think one of the other states has eaten them where I am in the game right now. Though I wouldn't call it that name (it'd be worse), but rather maybe 'Maisuru', which would be its name in the Kannada language.



Thank you very much, DensleyBlair for your encouragement, you're really, literally even, the only person keeping me going. I don't understand how I can receive almost 200 views without a single word from anyone else - it's kinda lonely and not very encouraging at all. I've been rather busy IRL over the past few days so I haven't had the time to write as much as I like - and it has to be quite a lot before I like it =) - but I'll put up in the daytime the conclusion to this chapter. Or is it really?

Also, in the time I've been ill and playing further ahead than I've written - much too far ahead, in my opinion - I've sort of run into a "stopping point" where I could make an important decision, but one with very grave consequences for where my country will head; don't worry, the Netherlands/Hindustan thing is still on, but apart from that. I'll probably ask for the popular opinion on what I should do when I get to that time. Until then, this is what I've been doing.


BYZ 1399 start, all settings normal, no lucky nations. There will be no AAR on this one, because Holland is still more fun! Holy hell, Byzantium is a sleeping terror. And that's the most screwed up HRE election I've ever seen.
 

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The Austrians and French were historically pretty bitter rivals, so a scuffle outside of the palace wouldn't be too unusual.

This is very entertaining, I hope you keep it up.
 

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aniuby said:
Thank you very much, DensleyBlair for your encouragement, you're really, literally even, the only person keeping me going. I don't understand how I can receive almost 200 views without a single word from anyone else - it's kinda lonely and not very encouraging at all. I've been rather busy IRL over the past few days so I haven't had the time to write as much as I like - and it has to be quite a lot before I like it =) - but I'll put up in the daytime the conclusion to this chapter. Or is it really?

Not at all - this is a really fine AAR. If it had been eligible, I would've voted for it in the ACAs :)

As for views/comments - there were periods when I'd look at views to get a real feel for how I was doing (and, honestly, that's still the case.) If you just keep putting stuff out here, people will show up. Reciprocal altruism also works here sometimes. I'm looking forward to the (possible) conclusion to the chapter - fantastic stuff.
 

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Chapter 7 D : Flower of Holland -
Blood on the Dance Flo (1474-???)

Sovereign Floris VI von Hohenzollern, since 5 November 1466

Holland's Relations with other Great Powers
Allied - France ("Thanks for being the only person in the whole world who wants to be our ally!")
Friendly - Castille ("We are absolutely fantastic neighbours and you have no reason to dislike us!")
Cordial - England ("You allied with who? Alright, but you need to work on your taste, continental!")
Neutral - Poland ("Who the hell is Holland, anyway? Never heard of them.")
Opposed - Bohemia ("They are totally plotting against us. Really. We don't need proof to know.")
Hostile - Austria ("As a member of the HRE you may vote on this law, though you are not our vassal ... yet.")




"All right, break it up! Both of you!"

The distinct scornful tone of Wilhelm von Hohenzollern's voice managed to do what almost four burly guards in armour could not. At once, the two men scuffling in front of the guardhouse paused long enough to allow them to be safely disarmed of their weapons - a chipped dirk, and the head of a halberd, separated from its shaft. On the ground near them rested their respective correspondence briefcases, forgotten amidst the tussle. A short distance away on the cobblestone pathway, there lay a cleanly severed halberd shaft, a broadsword neatly snapped in two by a powerful blow, and a claymore buried almost half-way into the street.

"Ah, Lord Wilhelm! I have news for you!" exclaimed Ross de Boeuf, French ambassador to Holland and well-known ginger-haired rodent, conveniently ignoring the two guards who had their gauntleted hands on his shoulder and were considering stringing him up.

"I have diplomatic immunity, you plebians! Get your hands off me!" bristled the Austrian ambassador, as he retrieved his briefcase and violently thrust it into the arms of one of the guards, before dusting himself off.

The Austrian ambassador was a somewhat unsavoury dark-haired Germanic man with a thin moustache and beard who went by the name of Friedrich von Werner-Schwarzel, or more often 'Fritz the Sch***z' as practically everyone in Amsterdam's diplomatic community knew him. Despite the fact that their ruler was Emperor, nobody liked the Austrians, thanks to their arrogant, self-righteous attitude to everything, an attitude shared by their ambassadors. Nobody liked them, you see, if they aspired to anything more ambitious than being a puppet state to the Habsburgs.

"I'm going. And if there's anything in there you're not happy about, it had nothing to do with me." Ambassador Friedrich snarled as he roughly, and rudely bid farewell to the co-Sovereign of Holland. "And go snog a sheep, frenchy bastard."

"Lederhosen-wearing, piss-swilling swine! Get back here so I can glass you one!"

"That's just about enough out of you too, Ross de Boeuf," growled Wilhelm, as he took the Austrian diplomatic case from the guard and proceeded to open it. "Being a ... 'honoured friend' of Holland does not give you the right to murder people in the street. Even if they're Austrian. Even if you weren't planning to charge for the service."

"Consider it a patriotic duty, Lord Wilhelm," said Ross as he shrugged off his previous rage, before reaching for his diplomatic correspondence - a formal letter in an envelope - and thrusting it in front of Wilhelm's face. "Speaking of which, it looks like you've been doing your patriotic duty, too. We in the French court have thrown a ball in your honour."

"What the hell do you mean."

Despite his words, Wilhelm's voice was strangely devoid of expression. Only the grimace of disgust slowly spreading across his face betrayed his feelings, as he leafed through the papers the Austrian ambassador had brought.

"Why, you're a father, my lord. Your wife Juliet, back her family home in Nevers, has given birth to a son, and her father Sovereign Julius Braun has nominated him as the heir to his throne."

HOL00930_zpsf36696a9.png

Take that, von Habsburgs! Best line in the game!

"Your son liked the ball we threw to him, as well. My King, Louis XIII, is certainly fond of children. Not in that way, of course, but he likes to please them and make them happy. Um, what I meant to say was ..."

"Shut up. Just shut up."

"... you wanted a daughter? Or you just weren't planning on starting a family?"

"No, you idiot!" Wilhelm snapped, as he flung the emptied Austrian correspondence brief to the ground, almost hurling the papers they contained along with them. "Read this!"

HOL00940_zps2a025997.png

"Oh, that scum Emperor Franz Stefan is finally dead. Good riddance," observed Ross de Boeuf, "and he was a nasty piece of work, too. No wonder Fritz Sch***zface was so pissy. And King Viktorin of Bohemia, son of Zikmund van Henegouwen, is Emperor. So why the long face?"

"I had no idea you had planned on making us Emperor, brother," a voice called from over Wilhelm's shoulder. Floris, Sovereign of Holland in name, had come to check on his twin brother, co-sovereign, and heir, concerned at his long absence. "I distinctly remember you saying that it was a crown from the gutter."

"I ... I was not." Hearing his brother's voice, Wilhelm tried to cool his flaring temper, being before the only person for whom he did not feel the slightest degree of contempt. "I was concerned at this other announcement - that Austria has inherited the throne of the Rhenish Palatinate. This means that Austria now holds one of the seven electoral votes, which they will use to quickly regain the Imperial title. I had hoped that the hatred the nobles of the Palatinate had for their Austrian oppressors would allow for the possibility of rebellion in the future, but it appears that they have been cowed into submission."

"I guess there is that, too." Ross de Boeuf said, finally handing his diplomatic brief to Floris after being constantly ignored by Wilhelm, "and good afternoon to you, your excellency Lord Floris."

"Good afternoon, Ambassador de Boeuf," Floris replied graciously, before once again addressing his brother. "Wilhelm, I am surprised that you would allow these matters of state to distract you, at least for the moment, from such a happy event as the birth of your son."

"One can have many children, but only one homeland," Wilhelm mused philosophically, before casting a glance at Floris. "Besides, I don't see you doing your patriotic duty."

"Ah ..." Floris smiled nervously, "it ... it is different for me. My wife rules the Duchy of Thuringia. I cannot simply see her at my pleasure."

"Then that means you didn't have enough of it when the two of you were together," remarked Wilhelm acidly, desirious of changing the subject to something more relevant to the situation at hand. "But it still peeves me how the King of Bohemia managed to acquired the Imperial crown for his own. He has done nothing whatsoever to deserve the title, apart from being slightly less scummy than Austria. Which is a merit to be sure, but one attained by most in Europe."

HOL0096A_zpsf7f2119b.png

The Imperial vote from the last recorded statement prior to the passing of Emperor Franz Stefan.
Holland's clear majority of four electors was overturned due to the war with Cologne.
It's not like I wanted to be Emperor, anyway.

"Perhaps it was a technicality of sorts." Floris said. "We of Holland cannot claim to be known for doing very much in Europe, after all."

"Then France should be Emperor!" Ross interjected. "We do lots of stuff in Europe! Or, we would, if only our King were permitted to lead our country to war during his minority."

"Hmm..." pondered Wilhelm, as he again searched through the documents that had been in the Austrian ambassador's briefcase. Finally finding the sheet filled with miniscule script that had the rules of the Imperial election written therein, he scanned through the lines before stopping abruptly as he came to a sudden discovery.

"It says here that according to 'Addendum-Festinatum 1472', inscribed with the blessings of Emperor Franz Stefan I von Habsburg of Austria and the consensus of the Geneva Convention, that in the event of a tie in the imperial votes where neither of tied candidates is the present Emperor, the nation which has gained the least international infamy through conquest shall be awarded the Imperial title. Apparently, since we have been spreading our influence in the Promised Land, we're considered to have attained a degree of infamy among the native lords, and this makes us more 'infamous' than Bohemia, who has been doing sod all."

"Sod all, indeed. I'm sorry to hear that, Lord Wilhelm."

"So, scum Austria's last act was to modify the rules to write us out of making history," growled Wilhelm as he replaced the documents within their case. "I wouldn't be surprised if they had a rule in there saying that the nation which gives out the most bribes should be awarded the Imperial title."

"Then France should be Emperor! We give out lots of bribes, all the time, even though we aren't even in the Empire!"

"Stop interrupting, Ambassador. Anyway, Floris, I think the issue of this most recent Imperial election has given us the opportunity to do a little writing of our own."

"A little writing?" Floris asked, not really understanding. "What do you mean, Wilhelm?"

"Writing ... hmm. I think we shall write Austria into mediocrity. The fiasco of this election is a just cause for war!"

"Wait! Wilhelm, are you insane? You want us to go to war with Austria?" Floris exclaimed. As Sovereign he was nominally in charge of making these decisions but somehow, when it came to grand strategy, Wilhelm had a mind of his own which far exceeded Floris' meagre understanding as a mere battlefield commander.

"Ambassador Ross de Boeuf of France! Write a missive to Paris - I wish to contact King Louis XIII for a strategy meeting. For its arrogance and high-handedness, we shall together cut Austria down to size. Now be off with you, and do our bidding!"

"You are serious, Lord Wilhelm? This is excellent news!" Ross de Boeuf almost leapt with a savage sort of delight as he turned to leave. "I shall arrange a meeting between our King and yourself on neutral territory as soon as possible. I look forward to the results of your discussion - I can't wait to rub the smirk on the face of that idiot Fritz into the floor where it belongs."

"Hm hm hm ..." Wilhelm chuckled quietly to himself, the cogs in his head already beginning to grind as he searched for the strategy to destroy the villainous nation of Austria.

Floris stood forlorn in the middle of the pathway, still holding the letter from France bearing the happy news of the birth of Wilhelm's son. He felt as if somehow the entire world had raced ahead of him, leaving him gazing emptily at the dust left in its wake.

"... you are insane, Wilhelm. Insane."

HOL00990_zps38d9856c.png

It was the winter of 1475, in the city of Mons, capital of the Duchy of Hainaut. An unmarked room in the town hall served as the meeting place of a secret conference between the rulers of France and Holland, whose lands the duchy bordered. Sovereign Odo Jagiellon, Elector of the Holy Roman Empire and a relative of the Polish king who had been named Sovereign upon the extinction of the Wittelsbach line (it's about time!), had generously offered the use of facilities in his border duchy as a sort of neutral meeting ground. The meeting would have gone completely unnoticed by the common man if it wasn't for the copious numbers of Hainautian, French, and Hollander soldiers patrolling the building which hinted as to the location of the summit and its participants.

It also helped that the tongue of the Walloons helped provide a language bridge between the mutually-intelligible French and the Dutch speakers who were familiar with and acknowledged the language, although occasional errors of translation and misunderstandings could arise. Such mistakes were normally tolerated among the scribes on both sides, as long as the gist of the matter was brought through.

"So, your majesty, from these lists I understand that your Kingdom can field a total force of over seventy regiments. These intelligence reports indicate that Austria also has a total strength of approximately seventy regiments, essentially enforcement brigades which are a hold-over from their position as Emperor, and which they now have neither the right, nor the financial backing to retain. Holland has the financial resources to fund a similar number of regiments, but due to a shortage of manpower we have settled for a slightly smaller number of fifty regiments - our allies in the Low Counties will make up the difference to give us an approximately two-to-one advantage against scum Austria."

"Awesome! This type of math is not hard at all. You call it, man!"

"It's true that Austria has allies of its own, but most of these are holdovers from its rapacious pillaging of the Venetian republic a few years back, nations too weak to even think about seeking out a more sensible bedfellow, and are easily neutralised with a naval blockade. The feckless Archbishop of Trier, having lined his pockets with Austrian bribes, will attempt to assist his backer but he may be persuaded to accept a 'strategic deployment' of troops in his territory prior to our war, who will conveniently arrest him if he thinks of joining the effort against us. The Duchy of Baden is a vassal state of Austria and will aid them, but this is a blessing in disguise - this is precisely what enables your forces to easily strike into the Austrian heartlands through the former Duchy of Württemberg, while we invade through the former Palatinate lands - these are states which Austria had previously usurped, which will now be the paths through which we shall bring about their downfall."

"Radical. It's totally sweet that I've got such a cool guy as my best bud, and all that stinky Austria has are a bunch of losers. Looosers!"

"Ahem, yes. Losers. However, there are a couple of pitfalls we must beware of. The first is my nation's precariously low manpower - although Holland's financial advisors have promised a maximum support limit of up to ninety regiments, our manpower reserves can only staff a miniscule fifteen regiments. There is, therefore, a very real risk that we will not be able to reinforce our armies in the field for long, and we must avoid losses from attrition, plunder where we can, and defeat Austria decisively in the first confrontations, or otherwise rely on ill-equipped mercenaries of questionable loyalty. The second is Austria's homeground advantage - their supply lines will be shorter, allowing them to support more troops in the field and possibly giving them the edge in a one-on-one confrontation. We will have to counteract this by digging in and baiting their forces into attacking a prepared defence, and using their numbers against them by striking in winter, where attempts to concentrate their forces to strike us will result only in their starvation. Finally, there is naturally the risk of great power intervention. All powers great and small wish to see Austria brought low for its scummy ways, but it is possible that others may attempt to intervene - not to defend Austria, but rather to take advantage of our distraction to pursue their own gains. However, I predict no difficulties in this front - the King of Castille currently has his hands full in his foolish quest to sujugate both Portugal and Aragon at once, and King of England is hamstrung by his own regency council in the period of his minority."

"Grr ... that little runt! If he dares show up, I'm going to kick his butt all the way back to his island of his!"

"Right. That's all I have to say, your majesty, so I trust that I have your co-operation in this matter. Do you have any questions?"

Co-sovereign, acting chancellor, heir to the throne, and chief military strategist of Holland, Wilhelm Karel von Hohenzollern, paused to give the young King of France time to think. And it was a lot of thinking which needed to be done. Few had the clarity of mind or raw brain power to even think of matching Wilhelm, and young Louis XIII de Valois, an otherwise sprightly and athletic sixteen year old lad of five-foot-half, less than half Wilhelm's age, was not an exception to this. At least the King liked being totally 'cool', impressing the ladies, and breaking other people's stuff - and he had a very big army at his beck and call.

"Umm ... yeah. Big question here, Willy-man. When are we actually going to attack?"

"Oh, right. Foolish of me to forget that. War will be declared in summer next year, to give us a few months for our army logistics to prepare for developments which will give us the edge over the Austrian scum."

HOL00960_zpsab773279.png

"Frankly, our focus on quality, professionalism, and discipline in our armed forces means that each of our men is worth two of the Austrians', and more effective weapons and formations will give us the edge. The only thing we lack is sheer power for that offensive push into the Habsburg heartlands, and that's where you come in. By my calculations, we will overcome all opposition and reach Vienna within a year, and the city will definitely fall within two. Within three years, I forsee a total occupation of the country, and Sovereign 'Archduke' Ferdinand Wenzel von Habsburg of Austria will bow to whatever demands we deem fit to issue."

"Ooh, scary, man. You're, like, totally confident of all this."

"I am. I would not embark with such an objective if I was not."

"Awesome, dude. I can't wait to kick Austrian butt! And when we get to Vienna, you and I can maybe go party and hang out with some babes and stuff."

"'Babes'?" Wilhelm pondered aloud. Is this what Ambassador Ross de Bouef meant when he said the king liked young children?

"I mean, like, chicks. You know ... girls! Grown-up girls, of course. Don't get me wrong, man!"

"Oh, right."

HOL00950_zpsc7b980d8.png

If someone can think of a more punny name for the capital of Florida, do let me know and maybe I might let you Tampa with it.

Floris von Hohenzollern, Sovereign of Holland, sat in an unadorned chair in the anteroom, looking through a summary of domestic matters of the year just past. Marshal of the Mint Joost Schönebeck had kindly provided such a summary as part of the duties of his office, having agreed to draw it up to provide something for Floris to do to look sufficiently bureaucratic as his brother discussed pan-European strategy with King Louis XIII de Valois of France in the main chamber. Wilhelm had run the whole plan through him before they left Amsterdam, and while Floris understood what he had to do - strike at Austria from the base camp in his wife's duchy of Thuringia - most of the details just sailed over his head. For a pair of twins, Floris knew that he was certainly not his brother's equal when it came to these sorts of matters.

"Is our King not really as you expected, your excellency?"

Floris' only companion in the antechamber was a very persistent Ambassador Ross de Boeuf, who had accompanied the pair as they travelled to Mons - apparently eager to actually see his King in the flesh for the first time since the young man reached his age of majority. It seems that Ambassador de Boeuf's expectations were similarly not fulfilled in the way he thought they would be.

"It is true that his majesty is rather ... innovative ... in his ways. Rather unlike most noblemen, in fact - I can see why Wilhelm is able to get along with him. I am curious, however, as to the happenings in the French court that could have moulded him in this way."

"Happenings, lord Floris?" Ambassador de Boeuf shrugged. "Adolescence happened."

HOL00970_zpsa15ba7b5.png


I will see you in Vienna!
 
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Even if the chapter isn't done, that is one hell of a cliff-hanger...

Also, every time someone links to the TV Tropes website, I spend the next hour clicking on links ;) Thanks for that - 'twas an hour well spent.
 
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Imperial Aquila

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...Oy. What happened to staying out of Europe and focusing on India? Destroying a Great Power is hardly going to benefit the Promised Land Project.
 

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Okay, it's done. I'm sorry I had to leave my work half-way, as I was doing my typing on my laptop in Costa in the morning and they needed to use the power socket. It wasn't much of a problem getting back to the computer, but what was a little more difficult was getting my momentum back and trying to remember just what the hell I was doing. Hopefully the next post will be up in a few days.

Once again, thanks for your support and encouragement DensleyBlair - I think you might enjoy the next chapter when events conspire to throw a screwdriver into my plans. And yes, TVTropes ruins lives.

Greetings Imperial Aquila, and thanks for posting - replies really help to keep my morale going.

As to the Promised Land project, there really is very little to do now except wait for the required provinces to core as I have all of them needed to form Hindustan as a Eastern Aryan nation - you'll see this is you look at Chapter 7 C. Creating Hindustan also requires leaving the Empire, which won't be possible for quite some time yet, and might well necessitate the destruction of the whole thing and the preparations that requires. And I'm certain you'll agree that increasing the strength of one's country, relative to the other great powers, is necessary to protect military-industrial base funding the entire project. I'm not the type to sit around and just wait, so I can definitely tell you right now that the next fifty years is blood, blood, blood all over Europe. There will, however, be a little recap interlude at some point just to show how things are getting on in the Promised Land.

But for now, time for some sleep!
 
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DensleyBlair

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A wonderful chapter now that it's finished. I'll have a think about Florida - any idea what the Keys to success might be? ;)

And yes, I'll see you in Vienna - tell Flo &co. that they're welcome at Café Katmayr anytime (click the blue/white link in my sig - all will make sense :))
 

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Looks good. When you spell it all out like that, it looks like you've got this war in the bag. I look forward to the no doubt stunning conclusion.

What are Bavaria and Bohemia up to? I assume they're neutral? If you could get one of them on your side, they might be useful to tie up some of Austria's armies at first, as well as getting friendly territory close to the Austrian heartland.

About Florida, I've got Jacksonville...yeah, that fell apart quickly. I'm not the punny sort.
 

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Chapter 8 A : Tijd voor Avontuur - Who Done It? (1475-???)
Sovereign Floris VI von Hohenzollern, since 5 November 1466

HOL00990_zps38d9856c.png

Shamelessly reposting the 'battle map' - it's the first time I've tried to create something like this, and I'll make something similar for future Great Power wars.
In summary, Holland sends two divisions (approximately 16k troops) through Mainz and one division through Thuringia, while France just sends all they've got at Baden.
Also, I have no idea why France is at -2 stab. Maybe they had military access to Austria - God knows why, since they don't need it, and they hate Austria anyway.

Till this day, the people of Holland still speak with pride of their nation's first forboding steps onto the field of war as a Great Power, to be reckoned with among the leading nations of Europe. It was in the autumn of 1475, when Holland, under the leadership of Sovereign Floris VI von Hohenzollern, and allied with Louis XIII de Valois of the kingdom of France, declared war on Sovereign 'Archduke' Ferdinand Wenzel I von Habsburg of the universally hated nation of Austria, in what was billed as 'The War to Cut Austria Down to Size'.

It was planned that the attackers would strike on three fronts: As Field Marshal, Sovereign Floris would personally lead an elite team, aided by Thuringian forces, to attack from the north-east; Chief Strategist and Co-Sovereign Wilhelm would orchestrate the bulk of Hollander and allied forces to strike from the north-west; and King Louis of France would command a sizable detachment of French troops to invade from the Franche-Comte through the Sundgau and the Duchy of Baden.

Within the month, the troops of Holland and her allies and vassal nations flooded in from the north, laying siege to the lands of Worms, Pfalz, Franken, and Hessen, regions which had formerly been rightfully held by the Rhineland Palatinate, to which Austria had successfuly forged a claim. The Austrians were caught unprepared for the strike from what had heretofore been a minor power beneath their notice, and had deployed most of their forces on their western frontier bordering the kingdoms of Bohemia and Hungary. The shock which this sudden declaration of war sent through the Austrian administration was best described by the Austrian ambassador to Holland, Friedrich von Werner-Schwarzel, as he was placed under house arrest in Amsterdam.

"What the hell is this? What kind of twisted maniac declares war and quotes the Violated Sphere of Influence casus belli, anyway?"
All they did was guarantee the independence of Alsace. And screw with the rules of the Imperial election to snatch the crown from Holland.
And be the most hated scum of Europe whom everyone wants to kill - if only they could win the war against Austria. And that's why we're here.

The forces of Holland met with an initial degree of success. Austria's allies in the Mediterannean, who were powerless to refuse the Austrian call to arms, quickly found their naval forces trapped in their ports by a concerted blockade by the Hollander alliance. The vile and lecherous Archbishop of Trier, whose excesses were funded by Austrian gold, attempted to rally to the defence of his backer, but his lax and lazy soldiers were annihilated by the drilled and well-prepared Hollanders within days. Thanks to seizing the initiative of the first strike, Hollander forces were able to dig in and hold a defensive position to prepare for the arrival of the bulk of the Austrian forces - a battle the young souls of Holland's army awaited with both dread and determination.

However, as often happens in life, the best laid schemes of mice and men go oft awry, and it took barely the week for news to travel from Paris to Wilhelm von Hohenzollern's base camp in the city of Cologne for him to know that the bottom had fallen out of his carefully structured battle plan. For reasons unknown, the French forces had been completely unprepared for war, without a single division on the border with the Sundgau, and while King Louis was in the process of personally leading the first division to the front, the large majority of his forces were retained deep within the French homeland fighting rebels and separatists. Apparently, the peasants had taken rather unkindly to the decision of the young King's privy council to levy war taxes to fight a foreigner's war (the concept of such taxes being virtually anathema to the patricians of Holland) , and instability ran rife throughout France. The force which France contributed to the front against the Austrians was thus vastly understrength, and for a moment it seemed as though Austria would be able to bring the full force of its might to bear against the outnumbered Hollanders.

However, it seemed that the opportunity for the Austrians to finally go blade-to-blade against their great foes the French was the lure which saved the Hollander emplacements from being overrun - at least for the moment. Or perhaps it was King Louis XIII's rather odd coiffure, fondness for tinted eyewear, and propensity toward somewhat innovative speech patterns which provoked them into attempting to wipe him out, in preference to the overly serious Hohenzollern brothers. An allied Austrian and Badenese army cut westward and began laying siege to the Franche-Comte, but this proved to be the turning point in inciting the French people to rally behind the war effort to combat the Austrian scum. Now at the head of an organised force almost twice that of the Austrian besiegers, King Louis XIII led the fightback - in the words of the teenage king himself -

"Dude! You managed to cross the border and, that's like, not cool, man! We're totally going to kick your butts back to Vienna! And then kick 'em some more!"

However, the French counterattack was cold comfort to the Hollanders, who now began to feel the folly in their audacious strike against the the mightier Great Power. Their edge in technology and training had proven to be of little benefit, while the shortage of manpower grew telling, and eventually Wilhelm's strategem was undone from within. Overconfident at the lack of an Austrian challenge, several of Holland's less disciplined allies disobeyed orders and broke formation, marching south in an attempt to occupy Baden. This separated them from Wilhelm's reserve force - aimed at rapidly reinforcing the defensive emplacement in Pfalz upon the inevitable Austrian counterattack - and also placed them directly in the path of Austrian troops who had moved to engage France. The foolhardy commanders not only got themselves routed, but drew the attention of an Austrian division, who marched northwards to displace the now understrength forces besieging Pfalz.

This proved to be a disastrous error, as at that very moment Wilhelm's host was distracted in an attempt to aid his brother Floris, who had reported two Austrian divisions bearing down on Thuringia, outnumbering his forces almost two to one. Sovereign Ferdinand Wenzel von Habsburg himself was the commander, intent on an honourable face-to-face confrontation with the leader of the alliance - and intent on bringing him a swift and bloody death. In a desperate, possibly even foolish manoeuvre, Wilhelm divded his forces, sending only half to relieve his brother in Thuringia, while the remainder returned to aid the battered and beleaguered forces in Pfalz. Should this gamble turn out to be successful, the army that was first to hold off their oppressor would be able to march to the aid of the other. Should it fail ... there would only be annihilation.

HOL01000_zpsd30d035d.png

A good way of telling how "hard" a fight was is to look at the amount of Prestige, Tradition, and War Exhaustion gained as a result of the battle.
It seems that there were not all that many losses on my side ... but it was a hell of a fight.

The march between Thuringia and Pfalz had never seemed to be so arduous. Meeting face-to-face for the first time since the beginning of the war, the brothers von Hohenzollern exchanged an embrace - and troops, with Wilhelm taking the freshest of their combined forces for the long trek back to Pfalz, not knowing whether their comrades would still be alive upon their return. A favourite of Sovereign Floris' anecdotes was how, at this desperate time, he saw his normally unflappable brother Wilhelm overcome with anxiety, fretting as he pored over the logistical details of what remained of Holland's forces - and what remained of his grand battle strategy, at the turn of the new year.

The year 1476 had come. Marshal of the Mint Joost Schönebeck, left to manage domestic affairs during this period of great war, had issued a report, almost disturbingly cheerful in its tone, that reported all finances in good order, supplies were plentiful, and arms were readily available. The problem however, was the dearth of able-bodied men able to reinforce the war effort. By the end of the first half-year of war, almost eight regiments' worth of men had been killed in action, the grisly statistics doing little to boost rates of enlistment. And yet, scum Austria remained undefeated, the losses Holland had inflicted only through great sacrifice being but a scratch, only a flesh wound. Perhaps they were invincible after all ...

HOL01010_zpsc6608e9f.png

When you're a small country and every man matters a lot, winning battles like these are the happiest moments in the game.

Or perhaps not. Wilhelm's reinforcements arrived at Pfalz too late to join the battle. However, instead of seeing the field littered with corpses of brave Hollanders, and Austrian flags everywhere, billowing boastfully in the blustery breeze, Wilhelm was greeted by the joyful sight of the remainder of his forces. Bloodied and grievously wounded, to be sure, but victorious - thanks to the help of a very special young man.

Observers report how the conceited Austrian commander, hearing the news that Floris and Wilhelm had combined their forces to defend Thuringia, had become convinced that the Hollander forces could not possibly by relieved in time. However, by dividing his forces to encircle and annihilate them, he exposed himself to a possible counterattack - and this came in the form of a very bizarre sword-wielding, catchphrase-spewing young man in some sort of tinted visor, with a whole division of men, adorned with the Fleur-de-Lys, at his back. For one does not need a rapier wit, as long as one has a rapier - and the sword arm to make good use of it. The young Louis XIII de Valois might be said to have looked and sounded very much like a little devil, and he fought like one as well.

"Yo, yo, yo! Think you've won? That's just, like, your opinion, man! Louis is here to wreck you losers! CHAAARGE!!!"

Stranger comrades there may never have been. Almost overcome with emotion the moment they met, whether joy at victory or gratitude for saving the lives of his soldiers, even admiration for his selfless charge northward to reinforce the siege at Pfalz, Wilhelm practically embraced the young man where he stood. The boy King could only excuse himself diplomatically as he wriggled out of the taller man's grasp.

"Like, yeah, man, I really appreciate it. That's totally awesome and all, bro, but you gotta know I really don't do hugs, okay! Unless its with chicks, of course."

"I'm sorry about that, your Majesty. There's simply no way I can express my thanks for what you've done this day. Thanks to you, the great plan has been saved, and the tide will now turn against Austria," Wilhelm apologised, before muttering under his breath. "If Floris hears about this, he'd never let me live it down ..."

"About that, Willy-man. You still remember what you told me in Hainaut?"

"I told you many things, sire. Which of them specifically?"

"'I will see you in Vienna.'"

"Yes, I do remember."

"Let's make good on that promise, Willy-man! Your bro is waiting for us there! To Vienna! Let's go!"

HOL01020_zpsf3f55387.png

HOL01030_zps97f8f9ea.png

Manpower's draining away ... but soon the war will be won!

June, 1476. The Austrian army was on its knees, and Floris knew it. His combined Hollander-Thuringian forces, having marched out of Dresden with his wife Gertrud von Wettin's blessing, had completely routed one division of Austrian toops on their own, and now prepared to face the very last division still standing, on the outskirts of Vienna. Or rather, Floris waited in ambush - that same division, led by Sovereign Ferdinand Wenzel of Austria in a valiant last stand, had been forced from the field of battle by his brother Wilhelm and King Louis de Valois' combined forces, and Floris had the unenviable task of offering the shattered forces the choice of surrender or death.

Battle left an empty feeling within him. To an extent, this was intentional, for it required a certain vacuity of emotions to wilfully kill a stranger one has never met. Then again, there was something about this whole concept of war, of fighting and killing, that left him blasé about the whole matter. Like the war wasn't really about him or what he wanted, but rather that he was but a cog in the grander scheme of things. It was when the Sovereign of Holland was in such a mood, that he was approached by a messenger from the retreating Austrians, offering surrender and a return to the 'status quo' - as if the two were one and the same.

His brother Wilhelm would have mockingly dismissed the messenger, possibly tossing a heavy tome full of definitions in his face to encourage the Austrians to reconsider their choice of vocabulary. But the more Floris thought about it, the more he understood that he was nothing like his twin brother. Why should he, Floris von Hohenzollern, continue fighting if it wasn't really 'about him'? And what about the lives of the thousands on both sides who had died for this pointless exercise in Great Power arrogance?

"Please reply, sire," interrupted a junior captain in his division. "We can't just leave him. Either we agree to his proposal, or we deal with him as we deal with enemy combatants."

"..." Floris considered the matter, bearing in mind that though he was the Sovereign of Holland, it was not truly 'his' war. "Only my brother can answer that question. Instruct their messenger thus - I, as commander of my division, demand that their Sovereign ... their commander, Ferdinand Wenzel von Habsburg, lay down his arms. Or else, I will following the orders that I have been given, and cut him down to the last man."

"Your will shall be done, my liege."

"... on the field, I am no liege. I am but a soldier."

Stephansdom-Wien_zps3f12cdfb.png

Interior of Stephansdom, Vienna, Austria. Source

"Whoa, man. Radical! Like, totally sweet place to have peace negotiations!"

The young man's voice echoed around the walls of the building, as King Louis XIII de Valois of France, Sovereign Floris VI von Hohenzollern of Holland, and Co-Sovereign Wilhelm von Hohenzollern took the first cautious steps through the arch of the mighty Cathedral of St Stephen, the greatest building in Vienna's city centre. Sovereign 'Archduke' Ferdinand Wenzel I von Habsburg of Austria, understanding that the situation was hopeless, had offered a negotiated surrender to be conducted in the interior of the grandiose structure.

Austria had been the strongest nation in Europe in its prime under his father Franz Stefan - now, it was destitute and helpless, its armies routed and troops dispersed. The infrastructure of the city of Vienna had mostly been spared by the invading troops, but the same could not be said about its treatment at the hands of its own defenders - the homes of civilians had been plundered and goods had been requisitioned to fuel the desperate resistance of Austria's capital, but in the end all was for naught. Now, Hollander and French troops patrolled its streets, ordered into place by the savvy Wilhelm von Hohenzollern, to guard against a betrayal by rogue Austrian elements, while their leaders negotiated the Austrian surrender. And, for good measure, all three men were armed. One can never be too careful, even in a supposed place of sanctuary.

"This place is indeed beautiful. I am pleased that the ravages of war have spared this holy place, at least."

As the trio approached the first row of pews, Floris glanced behind him to see magnificent statues of winged angels and cherubs poised over the arch, trumpeting the glory of Christ. The sight of such splendour, in this spiritual place, brought some little relief to his war-weary heart.

"I'd be a little more wary, if I were you," Wilhelm warned, keeping his hand on the hilt of his sword as they stepped forward, "I don't even see anyone to negotiate with. You had best be prepared."

"Don't worry, Willy-man! We're all totally awesome butt-kickers here, no assassin is going to get past all three of us!"

"Well, I'd hate to have to explain things in Paris if anything were to happen to you..."

Making their way up the aisle of the cathedral, the three suddenly became aware of a dull humming sound in the air, like a distant beehive that was teeming with insects. There seemed to be no one and nothing of note at the altar of the cathedral which could have been producing the sound, but Wilhelm, who had taken the lead, became aware of an unusual structure which rested in one of the transepts. A strange, blue monument, which seemed out of place in the otherwise austere environment of the cathedral.

Wilhelm was about to draw his weapon and signal to his companions to hold back, when he noticed a man appear from behind the blue monument. Like the monument itself, the man seemed to be very much out of place, with his brown hair adorned in a strange quiff, a jacket which seemed too fine for a commoner yet too plain for a nobleman, and a sort of scarf or ribbon around his neck. Holding a metallic object in his hand - a firearm, perhaps - he appeared to be surveying the side of the blue monument. Unfortunately, before Wilhelm could issue some proper instructions to his companions, the easily-excited boy king Louis XIII caught sight of the mysterious man, and called out to him from across the chamber.

"Hey! Yo, yo! What's up, man! You the guy we're supposed to meet?"

"Oh, hello," called the man as he turned to face the trio, still holding the metal object in his hand. He had a rather unusual accent which Wilhelm couldn't exactly place - he could understand the man perfectly, and yet the man seemed unmistakeably foreign. "Is this Barcelona?"

"I am afraid not," Floris replied, trying to be helpful, "This is Vienna."

"Ooh, way off the mark," the man sighed, as he scratched at his head with his free hand, "and still not ginger. I'm getting worse at this. Just as well, though, some 'W.L.' chap asked me to meet him for coffee here anytime, so now's as good a time as any."

"Cor-fee?" Louis XIII wondered aloud, as he adjusted the tinted visor he wore. "What's that, man?"

"Coffee is coffee - it's not quite the same thing as tea, but it'll do in a pinch. And how would you not know ..." The mysterious man, still standing besides the blue monument, looked around for a moment, stared at the three men, then seemed to come to a sudden realisation. "Ah, yes. Must have got things mixed up a little more than I thought."

"Yes, very well, but if you please," Wilhelm interrupted the informal and out-of-place conversation that had been going on as he stepped forward to intercept the strange man, "would you happen to have seen any diplomats or noblemen around here? We're here to participate in some very important negotiations..."

"No, no, nothing of the sort. Now if you'll excuse me ..." the mysterious man replied as he casually shrugged Wilhelm off, completely disregarding the fact that he was armed and quite clearly dressed as someone important. "Must go - a cup of coffee needs drinking. Allons-y!"

"Er, oui ... ? Monsieur? Parlez-vous français?"

The mysterious man had just brushed past a somewhat confused Louis de Valois, and stepped into the nave of the cathedral when he suddenly froze in his steps, staring unblinkingly straight ahead of him.

"Oh ... oh no. They're everywhere."

"What ... is everywhere?" asked Floris, not really understanding the man's words. In the absence of anything interesting to see, his eyes focused on a finely-crafted angel statue that had been mounted beneath one of the windows in the cathedral.

"Everyone, get out of here! And whatever you do - don't blink!"

"Don't do what now?"

Wilhelm was clearly unimpressed by the stranger's antics. Having been rudely ignored by the mysterious man but a moment ago, Wilhelm saw no need to listen to him now. Instead, his attention was drawn to the strange blue monument standing in the transept of the cathedral - it seemed to be made of metal and some sort of glass panels, and a door-like structure seemed to be fitted into one side of it. Curious, he put a hand on the 'handle' of the blue monument ...

"... and don't touch ... I haven't deactivated ...."

TARDIS_zps2deb53f6.png

Sorry, who?

A mysterious yellow spark, like a flash of lightning, seemed to leap from the handle onto Wilhelm's hands. Wilhelm suddenly felt his breathing constrict, as a burning sensation filled his body and every inch of his skin. Suddenly, the whole world seemed to be awash in some sort of yellow light, though he could not tell whether the world was indeed yellow or it was merely Wilhelm's vision which was clouded. He wanted to cry out in pain, but could only manage a hacking cough before his lungs drained of air. Behind him, he heard a startled shout and a childlike yelp - somehow, Floris and Louis had been affected as well. A terrible, shattering headache sprang in his forehead, rapidly spreading its tendrils throughout his brain. Wilhelm felt he could no longer think - and he could no longer think about being able to think. The last thing he heard, before the overwhelming sensation of pain across his body plunged into an impenetrable black nothingness, was the voice of the strange man, now eerily clearer in his head than it had ever been.

"Those medievals! Sigh ... remember, no getting involved in big historical events! And I don't want to go. Not just yet, anyway."

Wilhelm fainted.



EU3 has encountered an error and needs to close...

RageGuy_zps701774e1.png

Yes, this actually happened. The rage part, too. What Floris, Wilhelm and Louis accomplished? May not have happened after all. Rage indeed.

To be continued in Chapter 8 ??? : Tijd voor Avontuur - ??? (???-???)
 

aniuby

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Hi all, thanks for your replies. I see some new faces too! Don't worry, the game did continue after all (I would have said it long ago if something happened to the save file), but things were ... a little different the second time around. More on that soon.

However, more importantly, the images on Photobucket seem to be broken for me - is this happening for everyone else? For obvious reasons I can't proceed if I can't get images to work. If anyone could recommend another image hosting site with more leeway with bandwith, please let me know. Or maybe I should just cough up the £1.50 a month to Photobucket to get unlimited bandwith. How do all those image-heavy AARs host their pictures, anyway?

Well, I just caught up on this, and I've really enjoyed it so far. I hope you didn't lose too much progress.

Hi Xenophon13, thanks for visiting. I've read your V2 Philippines AAR and I enjoyed the way you gave gameplay events a plausible real world explanation, which is one of the types of AAR I like very much, though I haven't commented yet since I really know very little about V2. I'm glad you're having fun, and I hope you'll comment more in the future!


Oh yes!

What are Bavaria and Bohemia up to? I assume they're neutral? If you could get one of them on your side, they might be useful to tie up some of Austria's armies at first, as well as getting friendly territory close to the Austrian heartland.

At this point, my sphere of influence is large enough that I can get military access from basically anyone I ask regardless of relations. I tend to avoid asking unless I need it immediately, I definitely need it in the future, I'm trying to raise relations, or I have too many diplomats (the last being extremely unlikely). Both Austria and I have access through Bavaria, which means we had battles on their land in this war - you'll notice this from the battle result screenshots.

However, I have too many allies (including one native kingdom in the Promised Land) so I can't get more people to ally with me, and besides most HRE countries hate me due to diplo-vassalising HRE members, so no, relations are not friendly at all. Though they don't like Austria very much either, for obvious reasons. Things get messy later, and that's all I'll say so as not to give away too much.
 

Ricardo Rolo

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Your photobucket images do not appear because you exceeded the monthly bandwidth quota for a free account. That ,as implied in the "monthly" part, will reset when the month ends ( so , in a dozen of hours or so ), but as you will surely add more images to it, it is bound to happen again near the next month end if you don't correct that issue ( either by buying a pro photobucket account, that has unlimited bandwidth, using another free photobucket account or by using other image hosting service that is more lax about that issue, like, for example, imgur )
 

Imperial Aquila

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At this point, my sphere of influence is large enough that I can get military access from basically anyone I ask regardless of relations. I tend to avoid asking unless I need it immediately, I definitely need it in the future, I'm trying to raise relations, or I have too many diplomats (the last being extremely unlikely). Both Austria and I have access through Bavaria, which means we had battles on their land in this war - you'll notice this from the battle result screenshots.

However, I have too many allies (including one native kingdom in the Promised Land) so I can't get more people to ally with me, and besides most HRE countries hate me due to diplo-vassalising HRE members, so no, relations are not friendly at all. Though they don't like Austria very much either, for obvious reasons. Things get messy later, and that's all I'll say so as not to give away too much.

Cool. Do I smell parallel wars against Austria?

For your images, I use imgur, which doesn't seem to have that much of a bandwidth limit. Granted, I've accumulated as many images on there in a year as you have in this AAR alone, so maybe there is a limit.