- Jan 24, 2012
Chapter 7 B : Flower of Holland - Going with the Flo (1466-1470)
Sovereign Floris VI von Hohenzollern, since 5 November 1466
Sovereign Floris VI von Hohenzollern, since 5 November 1466
"It's about time someone sensible took charge of this country."
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.
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.
Look at all those rebels! You're looking, right?
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 ...
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.
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."
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."
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."
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!"
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